Muhammad Parvez, who strangled his 16-year-old daughter Aqsa (inset) to death because of his distorted belief that she had tarnished his family honour, has died in prison. His death comes nearly a decade after the murder that became a flashpoint for a national debate about cultural traditions imported to Canada by newcomers. “I killed my daughter. . . with my hands,” Parvez said, in a 911 call placed minutes after the murder in the Parvez home in Mississauga, Ontario in December 2007. The Parvez case sparked a sustained and furious national debate about the spread of misogynistic and patriarchal practices that put women and girls at risk of violence and death, though there had been many such murders dating back decades before Aqsa’s death. The debate intensified two years after Aqsa’s death, when four members of the Shafia family were murdered in June 2009 in Kingston, Ontario in a mass honour killing – the case that is the focus of my true crime book, Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders.
Nearly 10 years after Afghan native Mohammad Shafia brought his 10-member family to Canada, Ontario’s top court ruled that the controlling and abusive father got a fair trial when he was convicted, along with his second wife and eldest son, of murdering four family members. Shafia, his wife Tooba and son Hamed were not victims of prejudice and are not entitled to new trials, the Court of Appeal for Ontario says, in a judgment released today (Nov. 2, 2016). The three were each convicted in January 2012 of four counts of first-degree murder. Sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti 13 and Rona Amir, 50, who was Shafia’s first wife in the polygamous family, were found dead June 30, 2009, inside a sunken car resting at the bottom of a shallow canal in Kingston, in eastern Ontario.
The three convicted Shafia family killers want new trials and Hamed Shafia, the youngest of the trio, wants to be retried or, at least, re-sentenced, as a youth. A panel of judges of Ontario’s top court is grappling with these demands following a two-day hearing this week in Toronto at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The judges reserved judgment. There’s no timetable for a decision from the court. I think it’s unlikely the Shafias will be successful, on any of their grounds, because, as with some of their outlandish claims during their murder trial, they just can’t be believed.
Confused by the claim of the Shafia family that Hamed, one of the three convicted mass murderers, wasn’t 18 at the time of the killings, in June 2009? The surprising claim, which I have written about several times, and which will go before Ontario’s top court March 3-4, 2016, in Toronto, has left many people shaking their heads. To help explain it, I’ve created a short video (watch it after the jump), complete with a visual aid. I guarantee you’ll come away with a clearer understanding of the claims and, you might be left with a firmer feeling about whether you believe them.
Convicted multiple murderer Hamed Shafia has filed documents with Ontario’s top court in a bid to establish that he was unfairly tried as an adult in the sensational 2009 honour killing case. The exact contents of the application to admit fresh evidence, filed Feb. 19, aren’t yet known. It’s being kept secret by the Court of Appeal for Ontario until a hearing is held on March 3-4 at the court in Toronto but, as I reported previously, a secret hearing was held in Kingston, Ontario last October, at which his father and co-accused, Mohammad Shafia, testified that newly obtained documents show that Hamed was not 18 at the time of the murders on June 30, 2009. Hamed must convince Ontario’s top court to permit him to introduce evidence of the age discrepancy. He claims that his birthdate is December 31, 1991, and not 1990 as first believed. Next week’s hearing also will consider the broader arguments of all three convicted family members. Mohammad Shafia, 62, his wife Tooba, 46, and their son Hamed, were each convicted of four counts of first-degree murder but they have appealed, claiming that their trial was unfair because of “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” and “cultural stereotyping.”
A Montreal father, mother and son convicted nearly four years ago of murdering four other family members in an honour killing argue, in an appeal to Ontario’s top court, that they were victims of “cultural stereotyping” and “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” that should not have been admitted at their murder trial. In a 110-page document filed with the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Mohammad Shafia, 62 (inset), his wife Tooba, 45, and their son Hamed, 24, claim they’re entitled to a new trial. The document is a concise outline of the evidence and legal argument that lawyers for the three will present at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.
Five years ago today, around 10 a.m. on June 30, 2009, Brent White, a constable with the municipal police department in Kingston, Ontario, received a dispatch instructing him to go to Kingston Mills, a scenic and secluded spot on the northern edge of the city’s built-up area. At Kingston Mills, a series of ancient locks lifted boats from the level of Lake Ontario up to the level of the Cataraqui River. At one of the locks, a submerged car was spotted that morning by lock worker John Bruce. He had called police, beginning a chain of events that would reveal a horrifying quadruple homicide, Canada’s worst mass honour killing, orchestrated by Afghan immigrant Mohammad Shafia (inset).
Missed me on TVO’s program The Agenda with Steve Paiken on February 26? You can watch the entire program online (embedded after the jump). The segment, a panel discussion on honour killings, featured Deeyah Khan (inset), whose film about the honour killing in 2006 of Banaz Mahmod in England won the 2013 Emmy Award for best International Documentary. The panel also featured activist and educator Aruna Papp, a South Asian immigrant to Canada who wrote a book about her struggle against the oppressive honour and shame code to which her family subscribed, and Hafsa Lodi a freelance journalist based in London, England and Dubai, who is a former Ryerson University (Toronto) student who wrote a column about media coverage of honour killings in Canada, particularly the Shafia case.