The Montreal man accused, along with his wife and son, of killing four people, including three daughters, was captured on secret police wiretaps talking often and angrily about his lost honour and disparagingly about his dead children. Jurors at the murder trial of Mohammad Shafia (inset) have now heard all of the secret recordings made by police in a four-day span in 2009, just before Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed, 20, were arrested July 22, 2009, and charged. They are each on trial on four counts of first-degree murder. They have pleaded not guilty.
“They’re gone now; shit on their graves,” Shafia says, in a recording captured inside the family’s mini van on July 20, 2009, between him and his wife and son and played in court Monday.
“I am happy and my conscience is clear,” he says, in a recording made the following day, while the trio was inside the van. “They haven’t done good and God punished them.”
Several times during the recordings, Shafia is heard complaining that his daughters were promiscuous, they sinned and fornicated.
“Damn their boyfriends,” Shafia says, in a recording in the van on July 18. “To hell with them and their boyfriends …filthy and rotten children.”
Sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17 and Geeti Shafia, 13, and Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, were found dead in a Nissan Sentra submerged in a canal in Kingston on June 30, 2009. Rona was Shafia’s first wife, whom he married in Afghanistan. Prosecutors allege that the murders were honour killings, designed to cleanse shame that Shafia felt the victims brought on the family.
The recordings are littered with seemingly incriminating and cryptic exchanges.
“I know [Zainab] was already done, but I wish two others weren’t,” the accused mother says, in a recording inside the van from July 20.
“No Tooba, they messed up,” Shafia replies. “There was no other way.”
The same recording captures Shafia telling his wife that he could not stand to see pictures of his daughters dressed in revealing clothes with boyfriends.
“When I tell you to be patient, you tell me that it is hard,” Shafia says. “It isn’t harder than watching them every hour with [boyfriends].
“For this reason, whenever I see those pictures, I am consoled. I say to myself, ‘you did well. Would they come back to life a hundred times, for you to do the same again.’ ”
In a conversation Hamed had by telephone with a relative early on the morning of July 22, he was warned about his situation.
“Look Hamed, you are 100 per cent caught,” the relative says.
“They are making stuff up, don’t say these stuff on the phone,” Hamed replies.
The relative cannot be named under a broad court order that bars the publication of any information that would identity the person. The conversation was recorded a few hours after police arrived unexpectedly at the Shafia home in St. Leonard on July 21 armed with a search warrant. The family was shown the warrant, which said that they were suspected of murder.
Hamed talked to the relative again by phone roughly half an hour after the first call.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” the relative says. “Cause Hamed, you guys think of suicide and all that, don’t do it. OK?”
Hours later that morning, the three family members were arrested in Montreal. Hamed and his father were placed together inside a bugged police vehicle.
Hamed expresses concern about his mother.
“It’s not difficult for me, these [hardships] … she might lose her mind,” he says to his father.
“Your poor mother,” Shafia says, later in the same conversation. “May God’s fury descend on those girls.”
Later the men express concern about what Yahya has said to police.
“What do you think, what is the truth now?” Hamed asks his father.
“Perhaps your mother has made a mistake, said something in the car,” Shafia responds.
Shafia seems to be consoling his family members about the hardship they are enduring, in other conversations. In a recording inside the family minivan late on the evening of July 21, Shafia tell his wife and son to be strong.
“There is nothing more valuable than our honour,” Shafia says. “I am telling your mother that be like a man as you have always been. I know it hurts … don’t worry at all, don’t regret.”
He adds that “there is no value of life without honour.”
Shafia says his daughters were “treacherous” and betrayed Islam, dishonouring the family.
“Even if they hoist me up onto the gallows … nothing is more dear to me than my honour,” Shafia says, speaking to Hamed in a July 21 recording inside the van. “Let’s leave our destiny to God and may God never make me, you or your mother honourless. I don’t accept this dishonour so don’t think about it anymore.”
In one of the recordings, Shafia tells his wife and son that they were not a strict family but “kind of liberal” and that nothing he did amounted to “meddling” in the lives of his daughters.
(This appeared first at the Montreal Gazette)