THESE THREE HAVE BEEN LYING SINCE THEIR ARRIVAL IN CANADA, YET NOW WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT THE WIFE (THEY LIED ABOUT) AND THREE DAUGHTERS JUST HAPPEN TO DROWN BY ACCIDENT….EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ALREADY DEAD BEFORE BEING PLACED IN THE SUV….BUT….HEY….THAT’S NEITHER HERE OR THERE…RIGHT?
Shafia trial: Accused lacked time to commit murders, lawyer says
Hamed Shafia, Mohammad Shafia, and Tooba Mohammad Yahya walk into the Frontenac Court courthouse in Kingston, Ont. in this file photo from last fall.
Photograph by: Lars Hagberg, Montreal Gazette
KINGSTON, Ont. — Three members of a Montreal family at the centre of Canada’s first mass honour killings trial did not have the time to carry out the slaying of four other family members, jurors were told Tuesday, as defence lawyers began closing submissions at the Shafia trial.
Lawyer Peter Kemp, who represents businessman Mohammad Shafia, 58, said the evidence about the timing of events on June 30, 2009, shows there simply wasn’t enough time for the accused to commit a complex multiple murder.
Kemp outlined a theory about how long it would take to forcibly drown four people at Kingston Mills, an isolated spot along the Rideau Canal, where the victims were found dead, then place their bodies inside a Nissan Sentra and push it into the water.
“There was simply no time for a murder as opposed to an accident,” Kemp said.
Shafia sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, were found dead inside the family’s car, which was discovered submerged at the bottom of a shallow canal near Kingston, in eastern Ontario. Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, also was in the vehicle. She was Shafia’s first wife, whom he married in his native Afghanistan before the polygamous family moved to Canada in 2007 and settled in Montreal.
All of the victims had drowned but examinations could not pinpoint where and how they drowned.
Shafia, along with his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 42, and their son, Hamed, 21, are each charged with four counts of first-degree murder. They have pleaded not guilty. Their trial, underway since October 2011, is in its final stages.
Kemp reviewed evidence heard during the trial that suggested Shafia was a loving, liberal father who worked tirelessly to find a place for his children where they could get a good education and would have opportunities that were not available in their home country.
Kemp said that, given this, jurors should conclude the victims died in an accident, and were not slain in an honour killing, as prosecutors insist.
“You would have to accept that the father of seven children, who had spent the last 20 years providing for them all around the world, who was in the process of building a large new home for them, for no apparent reason, became so black, so dark, so evil, that he would cold-bloodedly plan the execution of three of them and carry out that plan,” Kemp said, his voice rising.
He said that at the end of the day, jurors do not know how the car got to Kingston Mills and they do not know what the four victims were doing there.
“They all drowned accidentally,” Kemp said.
Defence lawyer David Crowe, who represents Yahya, also began his address, and attacked the notion that the three accused would subscribe to some ancient practice in which girls and women are killed to restore the family’s honour.
“In my submission, the concept of honour killing has no application to the events before you and should be disregarded in its totality when you’re deliberating as to what occurred and whether these incidents constituted a murder or constituted an accident,” Crowe told jurors.
His submission was not complete when court adjourned for a lunch break.
After the three defence lawyers complete their submissions, the judge will instruct the jurors on the law and he will review the evidence, before they begin deliberations.