An Afghan father, his wife and their son have been jailed for life after a jury found them guilty of killing three teenage sisters and a co-wife in what the judge described as a ‘despicable’ and ‘heinous’ crime.
The jury had taken 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.
The four bodies were found in June 2009 in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ontario, where the family had stopped for the night on their way home from Niagara Falls.
Prosecutors said the daughters were killed because they dishonored the family by defying rules on dress, dating, socialising and going online.
After the jury returned the verdicts, Mohammad Shafia, speaking through a translator, said: ‘We are not criminal, we are not murderer, we didn’t commit the murder and this is unjust.’
His weeping wife, Tooba, also declared the verdict unjust. She said: ‘I am not a murderer, and I am a mother, a mother.’
Their son, Hamed, speaking in English said: ‘I did not drown my sisters anywhere.’
But Judge Robert Maranger was unmoved, saying the evidence clearly supported their conviction for ‘the planned and deliberate murder of four members of your family’.
‘It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime … the apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor … that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.’
The defense had contended the car accidentally plunged into the canal after one of the daughters went on a joy ride.
The accused killed the girls because they dis-honoured the family by defying its disciplinarian rules on dress, dating, socializing and going online.
The fourth victim was Shafia’s first wife, who was infertile, and was living with the family in Montreal. The polygamous relationship, if revealed, could have resulted in their deportation.
Prosecutor Laurie Lacelle had previously told the court: ‘Shafia, Tooba and Hamed had decided that there was a diseased limb on their family tree. Their decision was to trim the diseased limb and prune the tree back to the good wood.’
The trio denied the killings, claiming that evidence points to the deaths being an accident.
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