‘It was murder’

Crown delivers its closing arguments in Shafia honour killing trial

The Crown prosecutor made her closing remarks at the Shafia “honour killing” trial on Wednesday, telling the jury what she believes the evidence presented at the months-long trial proves. “This evidence alone establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that what happened to these girls was no accident,” Laurie Lacelle told the jury. “It was murder.”

Tooba Yahya, her husband Mohammed Shafia and their 21-year-old son Hamed Shafia each stand accused of four counts of first degree murder. The charges were laid after the bodies of four women—three of them girls between the ages of 13 and 19—were found dead in a car in the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont. The three girls—Zainab, Sahar and Geeti—were the daughters of Shafia and Yahya. The fourth dead was Rona Amir, Shafia’s second wife in a secretly a polygamous marriage.

Lacelle took the jury through the evidence that had been presented to them during the trial. She talked of how pieces of the headlights from the family’s Lexus were found near the Rideau Canal where the submerged Nissan was found, suggesting they had nudged it into the water. She also questioned the credibility of Hamed Shafia’s testimony. He had previously told the jury that he was on the scene when his sisters’ car plunged into the canal, but that it had done so on its own as the driver tried to turn around. Hamed claimed he didn’t call 911 out of fear of his father’s reaction.

A day earlier,defence lawyer Patrick McCann had made his closing statement, arguing that account—however ridiculous—is the truth. “Hamed is guilty of being stupid—morally blameworthy—but other than that, he is not responsible for the girls’ deaths, nor were his parents,” McCann he said, quoted by . “It’s time to put an end to this Kafkaesque [episode] they’ve been going through for the past two and a half years, since the night of June 30.”

As the trial comes to a close, the defence maintains the deaths were an accident, while the Crown insists the Amir and the Shafia sisters were murdered by their family because they were thought to have dishonoured the Shafia name through alleged promiscuity and other disapproved behaviour.

UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The Kingston courtroom where the trial is being held has been evacuated due to a security threat. A defence lawyer leaving the building reportedly indicated that there may have been a bomb threat, but that has not been confirmed by Kingston police. The trial, which was scheduled to hear more closing arguments from the Crown Thursday, has been delayed until 1 p.m. EST, and the three accused were taken away in a van.

CBC News

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.