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Trial Ends in Canadian 'Honor Murder' Case

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By Ivana Kvesic , Christian Post Reporter
January 27, 2012|10:49 am

Thursday marked the last day of the historic "canal deaths" murder trial involving Afghan-Canadian immigrants accused of killing three teenage sisters for allegedly tainting the family honor.

The bodies of 19-year-old Zainab, 17-year-old Shahar, and 13-year-old Getti were discovered on June 30, 2009 in a car submerged in the Rideau Canal outside of Kingston. A fourth body was also discovered in the vehicle, belonging to Rona Amir, the stepmother and first wife to the three sisters' father, Mohammad Shafia.

Shafia told police that his daughters went out for a joy ride with their stepmother on a pit stop home from a family vacation to Niagara Falls.

Police initially believed that the deaths were accidental but during the investigation became suspicious after finding evidence that suggested that the Nisan Sentra the daughters were traveling in with their stepmother had been rammed into.

Police found pieces of the family's Lexus near the canal and discovered damage on the Lexus matching the damage visible on the Nisan Sentra in which the girls were riding in.

Police additionally questioned why the women, none of which was wearing a seatbelt, did not attempt to escape the vehicle after it pummeled into the canal.

Police responded to their suspicions by wiretapping conversations between Shafia, his second wife Tooba Yahya, and their 21-year-old son Hamed.

"I say to myself, 'You did well. Would they come back to life a hundred times, you should do the same again,'" Shafia was overheard telling his family members in Dari.

In the taped conversations, Shafia also called his daughters "whores" and declared, "may the Devil defecate on their graves!"

Interrogations of the family never uncovered a motive, but prosecutors contend that the three sisters where killed by family members for dishonoring the family. Prosecutors also argue that 50-year-old Amir, who served as a support system to the three teenage daughters, was killed because she would have challenged the story behind the deaths.

Shafia, Yahya, and Hamed are facing four counts of first degree murder, but they all deny the charges against them.

On Thursday during the final hearing of the trial, prosecutor Laurie Lacelle told the jury that the deaths of the four women was indeed murder.

"This evidence alone established beyond a reasonable doubt that what happened to these girls was not an accident," Lacelle told the jury.

The Shafia family moved from Afghanistan to Canada in 2007 and it appears as though the three daughters of the Afghani businessman were frustrated with the expectations placed upon them.

The two eldest daughters of Shafia, Zainab and Sahar, were reportedly engaging in sexual relationships with boyfriends. Zainab also got married in 2009 to a boy her father rejected and the marriage was annulled within a day.

The youngest daughter, Getti, was reportedly calling social workers asking to be removed from the family home.

During the trial, testimony by uncle Latif Hyderi offered insight into the conditions of the girls in the Shafia home. Hyderi shared with the court what Zainab told him regarding her marriage.

"There were many other boys who wanted to marry me. I rejected them. This boy does not have money and he is not handsome. They only reason I am marrying him is to get revenge for the cruelty of my father. I sacrifice myself for my sisters so they will get this freedom after me," the 19-year-old said, according to Hyderi.

 

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