Three members of the Shafia family, originally from Afghanistan, who immigrated into Canada from United Arab Emirates in 2007 and settled in the Saint-Léonard borough of Montreal, Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21 were found guilty of four counts each of first-degree murder by a jury on January 29, 2012.
According to canadian judiciary system, First degree murder charge carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without a possibility of parole for 25 years.
"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime," said Judge Robert Maranger after the verdict.
"The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor.", he added.
We can have a detailed look at the journey of the doomed family and for this we have to go back three decades back.
Mohammad Shafia, a native of Kabul, Afghanistan was born in 1952. He married Rona Mohammed at the age of 26 i.e in 1978 and their wedding was held at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel and attended by 300 guests. Later it was found that Mrs. Rona was infertile and would not be able to have children. In 1988, he took Tooba Yahya to be his second wife in a polygamous marriage, a practice that is legal in Afghanistan.
It is learnt that Mrs. Yahya eventually gave birth to a total of seven children including the three girls who were killed Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti.
The entire family moved out of Afghanistan in 1992 and took refuge in pakistan. After Pakistan, the growing Shafia family moved on to Dubai.
They lived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for over a decade, where Mohammad Shafia had made a fortune in Dubai real estate. As the immigration rules prevented them from getting citizenship in the United Arab Emirates they moved away from UAE as well.
Then they spent a year in Australia, but Shafia did not appreciate the local Afghan women’s support group reaching out to his wives. After another stint in Dubai, he decided to make the move to Canada where Yahya had a large extended family.
There was one hitch with the move to Canada. Since polygamy is outlawed, they had to lie about the status of Ms. Rona.
Though Rona played a crucial role in their upbringing and raised the children as if they were her own. When the family immigrated to Canada, Rona was presented as an aunt.
It was believed that all of them were leading a good and smooth life in Canada before the holocaust struct the family in June 2009.
On June 30 2009, Shafia sisters Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, as well as Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, were found dead inside a Nissan Sentra that was discovered underwater in the northernmost Kingston Mills lock of the Rideau Canal on the same day.
Police initially believed that it was a tragic accident, and first categorized it as a "sudden death investigation". However, authorities soon learned that Hamed had reported an accident with the family Lexus SUV in an empty parking lot early that same morning in Montreal.
Despite their suspicions, the authorities did not have "reasonable and probable grounds" or sufficient evidence to ask a judge for a search warrant. Kingston Police Det. Steve Koopman, the liaison with the Shafia family, managed to gain the Shafias' consent so that they could view the Lexus.
After assessing the damage on both vehicles, police theorized that the Lexus was used to ram the Nissan into the locks.
The trial was presided over by Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger. Over a three-month trial, the court heard repeated evidence that the three teenaged sisters had clashed with their conservative father on many issues.
One had a boyfriend, and had briefly sought shelter in a woman's refuge, while another was sent home from school for wearing clothes that were too revealing.
In secret wiretaps recorded in the days after the deaths, Mohammad Shafia can be heard saying, "God curse their generation, they were filthy and rotten children," and "To hell with them and their boyfriends, may the devil shit on their graves." Further wiretaps reveal Shafia saying, "Even if they hoist me up onto the gallows, nothing is more dear to me than my honour."
I hope a proper education can end such "honour killing" mind set of likes of shafia.
Though i feel compassion for the remaning members of the shafia family including the charged shafias, i also feel that the punishment will serve its purpose of sending a strong message to others.
People immigrating to a new country, including Canada, have to abide by the law of their new country.
There is no space for "honour killings" in Canada.
RIP the departed souls.