Mohammad Shafia (left) Tooba Mohammad Yahya and their son Hamed enter Frontenac County courthouse in Kingston for their murder trial.
(IAN MACALPINE/Postmedia Network)
(IAN MACALPINE/Postmedia Network)
TORONTO - It's enraging that the three Shafia killers who so rejected Canadian values have wasted Canadian taxpayers' money in a Canadian court to fight their appeal.
And yet how remarkably satisfying it is that the Ontario Court of Appeal has so unanimously rejected the trio's lying attempts to escape their just punishment for the horrific honour killings of their own kin.
Despite their claims, it was not cultural stereotyping that convicted Mohammad Shafia, wife Tooba Yahya, and precious first-born son Hamed of murdering three teenage sisters and their "aunt." Nor was there any mix-up about Hamed's age — he was an adult at the time, not a youth, and was rightly tried as such.
Ontario's highest court roundly dismissed all five grounds of appeal to undo their 2012 convictions on four counts each of first-degree murder. As Justice David Watt wrote with some understatement, "Charitably put, the evidence of guilt was overwhelming."
Shafia's daughters — Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13 — and Rona Amir Mohammad, his infertile first wife in his polygamous marriage, were killed for daring to reject their patriarch's backward ways, for daring to be too Canadian. "Whores," Mohammad called them. "Honourless girls."
But he brought them all to this country and here, Canadian justice means there is no honour in murder.
On the morning of June 30, 2009, a newly purchased Nissan Sentra registered to Shafia was discovered submerged in the Rideau Canal — inside floated the lifeless bodies of the four women. All had drowned, three had bruising on their heads. As Watt noted in a chilling assessment: "To drown someone by holding their head under water would likely take two to three minutes. About 15 minutes would be required to drown four people to unconsciousness, one after the other."
And they did this up close. To their own.
The surviving family members told a ridiculous story — that they'd been at a Kingston motel on their way home to Montreal from Niagara Falls when they must have taken off in the middle of the night on a fatal "joyride." Wiretaps later installed by police in the family's van disclosed what really happened: An angry father was bent on punishing his daughters for disobeying him.
"Even if they come back to life a hundred times, if I have cleaver in my hand, I will cut (them) in pieces," he said in a recording three weeks after the murders.
In another intercepted conversation with his wife and son, Shafia declared, "Let's leave our destiny to God and may God never make me, you or your mother honourless. I don't accept this dishonour."
At their appeal, Hamed tried to introduce "fresh evidence" of newly-discovered documents from Afghanistan purporting to show he was really 17 at the time of the murders and should have been tried separately in a youth court. But all official papers showed his birthdate in 1990, not 1991, and his own lawyer at trial never raised the age issue. As for the tazkira, the "new" identity card, the appeal court found it "inherently suspect."
"I am satisfied that when the deceased were killed, Hamed was not a 'young person,'" Watt said on behalf of the three-judge appeal panel. "He was an adult, properly joined with his parents in a joint trial."
The three also complained evidence about honour killings by Crown expert Dr. Shazrad Mojab "invited dangerous cultural stereotyping."
The irony, of course, is that the concept of honour was first introduced by the murderer himself, not the expert.
"The notion of honour and of killing another person motivated by besmirched honour originated with Shafia, not with Dr. Mojab," wrote Watt. "Recall Shafia's diatribe about the importance of honour and how he, they (Hamed and Tooba), their culture and their religion had been dishonoured by the conduct of the deceased, especially Zainab."
The court dismissed every ground of appeal they tried. These three will continue to rot in the prison they deserve for at least the next two decades.
"Even if they hoist me up onto the gallows," Shafia had declared, "nothing is more dear to me than my honour." Let that precious "honour" console them now.