This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Accidental Honour Killings

"That type of evidence is flat out prohibited. She [expert witness at murder trial] should not have been permitted to tell [the jury] how honour killings are typically carried out or read out denunciations on honour killings."
"[The expert witness gave evidence representing] stereotypically [sic] reasoning about Afghani Muslims [testimony that had] zero legal relevance. Its probative value was outweighed by its prejudicial value."
"A Canadian jury is perfectly capable of understanding that men of all ethnicities will sometimes hurt female family members for misguided reasons of honour, without the assistance of expert evidence."
Frank Addario, lawyer for Shafia family of Montreal

"The evidence against the appellants in this case was overwhelming. Given the nature of errors that have been alleged and their relative insignificance in the context of this very large trial, the verdict would necessarily have been the same."
"The evidence at the scene was completely inconsistent with the accident theory."
"An abundance of evidence for motive in this case comes from the mouth of Mohammad Shafia himself."
"This is not cultural profiling [introduction at trial of expert testimony on honour killing]. This was equipping the jury to understand an issue in the trial."
"She [expert witness] is not stigmatizing or seeking to generalize or profile an entire nation. She didn't offer any opinion that this case was a case of honour killing."
Jocelyn Speyer, Crown attorney 

Canadians would be grateful to have heard the last of the Shafia family when they were all -- Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed -- convicted in 2012 on four counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to serve life terms in prison. Among them they had conspired to murder Mohammad Shafia's first wife (Rona Amir Mohammed) in an polygamous marriage, legal in their native Afghanistan, but not in Canada, along with their three young daughters, Zainab 19, Sahar 17, and Geeti, 13.

Sahar Shafia, 17, with boyfriend Ricardo; Rona Amir Mohammad, 53; and Zainab
Shafia, 19, with boyfriend Ammar.
Sahar Shafia, 17, with boyfriend Ricardo; Rona Amir Mohammad, 53; and Zainab Shafia, 19, with boyfriend Ammar.   Trial exhibit / Harper Collings Publishers
The girls were accused by their parents of bringing shame and dishonour to the family name by adapting to Canadian values and mainstream culture despite the demands of their parents and their brother to conform to the values they had brought with them from Afghanistan reflecting an orthodox Muslim society. Their "twisted concept of honour", as the presiding justice in their trial put it, led them to consign four women to a miserable death.

The bodies of the four women were discovered in the family car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ontario. The parents and son contended that it was the result of a dreadful and unfortuante  accident, that they had nothing to do with its commission. Yet evidence at the scene and later found on another vehicle driven by the son matched the theory that the car he was driving pushed the death car into the canal, and all three women, helpless to save themselves, drowned. 

Court handout
Court handout   Geeti Shafia, 13

The Crown had called upon Shahzad Mojab, a professor whose special research was primed on violence practised culturally victimizing women and in particular those whose origins are in the Middle East. It is her testimony that the lawyer representing the parents insists negates the trial, calling now for a new trial to be conducted. And the lawyer representing the couple's son now claims that his birth certificate issued by the government of Afghanistan indicates he was actually a year younger than his parents and he himself believed  him to be.

Sentenced to life in prison, Mohammad Shafia planned to transfer property he owns in Afghanistan, and to that purpose authorized someone in Afghanistan to prepare the required paperwork. During the processing of his task, that individual 'discovered' Hamed Shafia's original Afghan identity document recording his birth date to be December 31, 1991, not 1990 as he and his parents believed. Both lawyers are gambling on their arguments causing justice authorities to have doubts.

The Afghan ministry produced a 'certificate of live birth' authenticating the birth date that would have seen Hamed Shafia, at the time he helped his parents plan, and executed his sisters' and step-mother's death, to be 17, not 18. As though money changing hands in Afghanistan to officialdom would not result in achieving an outcome favourable to the plan to portray the killer as too young to have been tried as an adult, from a country celebrated for its level and depth of endemic corruption.

"There would be a temptation for some to think of this as a technicality", observed Hamed's lawyer, Scott Hutchison. "We have evidence that is reasonably capable of belief. Age in so far as it relates to young people is not a technicality. It is a principle of fundamental justice ... we do not treat young people the same way we treat adults." As though, if he were indeed a year younger than 18 at the time he committed multiple murder, he would be exonerated as a child incapable of distinguishing the despicable evil he committed.

"You can admit this evidence and it doesn't undermine the factual underpinning of the verdict one iota. Greater emphasis should be placed on protecting the integrity of the criminal justice system", observed Crown lawyer Gillian Roberts.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet