A Young Offender Seeking Justice for Honour Killings
The Shafia family vehicle found at the bottom of the Rideau canal in eastern
Ontario seemed to trace a very deliberate path, a murder trial heard on
Oct. 21, 2011. (CP)
"Even had a youth justice court convicted the Applicant on the same offences, the sentence would have been significantly reduced. Instead of the most severe sentence known to Canadian law [life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years], the Applicant would have received either a youth sentence or, if sentenced as an adult, life imprisonment with parole eligibility set at ten years."
Hamed Shafia appeal of guilty verdict in "honour" killings as an adult
This stupendously mind-boggling interpretation of honour favoured in most Muslim majority cultures whereby a clan's, or a family's honour is restored when the one who ostensibly brought dishonour on the family has been punished, found expression in 2009 in the Shafia family of Montreal, immigrants from Afghanistan. Outrage expressed by the father, echoed by the mother and reworked into a murder scheme carried out by the son, horrified the nation when three young woman and their step-mother were discovered to have drowned at the Kingston Mills lock in Ontario.
The 'accident' soon unravelled into a multiple murder investigation identifying three family members as having been involved in the deliberate killing of four other family members. The three Shafia sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, were found dead along with Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, who was the first wife of Mohammad Shafia. A month after the discovery of their tragic deaths, Mohammad and his wife Tooba Yahya and their 18-year-old son were all three arrested and charged with the murder of their four family members.
|(Photograph by Vincenzo D’Alto) Mohammad Shafia, Tooba Yahya and Hamed Shafia escorted by police in Kingston, Ontario.|
Subsequently, at trial the three were found guilty in January of 2012 of four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, clearly linked to honour killing. The penalty for first degree murder in Canada is a 25-year prison sentence, with no chance of parole before that time has expired. All three guilty Shafia members appealed their guilty verdicts and the response of the Ontario Court of Appeal was to unanimously reject their arguments in a ruling brought down in November 2016.
Here it is, several months later, and Hamed Shafia is putting forward an argument to the Supreme Court of Canada that the Ontario Court of Appeal erred in failing a test for the admission of new evidence by rejecting documents from Afghanistan proving his birth date sets him at age 17, not 18, at the time of the murders he committed. That, in effect, justice was not done when he was tried as an adult, not as a youthful offender. It is the man's unrepentant contention that he should have been tried separately from his parents.
They, his parents deemed it a necessity that their wayward daughters who subscribed to a Western way of life with its attendant casual attitude to the sexes mingling in social situations, bringing shame and dishonour to the highly conservative Shafias had earned the early death he planned for them as 'whores'. Under Canadian law multiple marriage is illegal, and Mohammad Shafia brought both his wives to Canada, one of whom he plotted to murder alongside his daughters and for the same reason.
Rona (left) and Sahar Shafia are shown in this photo released by the courts on Nov. 22, 2011. (CP)
While the mother of the three girls who were in fact mothered by the first wife who was murdered with the girls, was in full accord with her husband that their daughters did not deserve to live, it is not difficult to imagine that she viewed her husband's first wife as a competitor and challenge to her own status as wife and if the girls were to die, why not the woman who empathized and loved the girls? But it was the son who investigated the Internet for ways in which murder could be undertaken with a minimum of detection risk, and carefully carried the plan to fruition.
"It is difficult to
conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honourless crime."
"The apparent reasons behind these
cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent
victims offended your twisted notion of honour -- a notion of honour that
is founded on the domination and control of women, a sick notion of
honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."
Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger
Now however, the murderous son feels emboldened under Canadian law to challenge the legality of the charges of which he was found guilty, as an adult. A factum filed with the Supreme Court has Hamed Shafia pointing out the "troubling uncertainty" respecting the rules of admissibility of fresh evidence; that 'fresh evidence' the introduction of birth documentation from the government of Afghanistan, testifying to his correct age at the time of the murders: 17.
Making his act all the more incomprehensible and horrifying.
Labels: Canada, Honour Killings, Immigrants