Shafia family murders

Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders, from HarperCollins Canada, is the heartbreaking and intimate account of the lives of the victims. It documents their struggle for freedom, affection and love. The book provides startling new details, the product of three years of exhaustive research on this story, including exclusive interviews with people who have not spoken publicly before.

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Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders

“Painstakingly researched and vividly told”
National Post

“Meticulously detailed, brimming with fresh insight”
Globe and Mail

“Detailed, damning and thought-provoking”
Canadian Lawyer

I have been covering this story since June 30, 2009 (how it began), the day that a small black car that contained four bodies was found submerged (read 2009 police news release providing names of victims)at the bottom of the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills, a tiny crossroads within the City of Kingston, in eastern Ontario. At the time, I was the crime reporter for the Kingston Whig-Standard, Canada’s oldest daily newspaper. I was the first reporter on the scene and the only journalist to follow the story from that day, through the arrests (read police release issued in July 2009 after arrests) until the completion of the criminal trial on January 29, 2012, when the 12-member jury returned with verdicts of guilty on all the charges, 12 counts of first-degree murder in all, four against each of the three accused, Shafia, Tooba and Hamed (read the Superior Court indictment and verdict sheet signed by the judge). They were each sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, sentences that are automatic under Canadian law. All three are appealing. The appeals are not likely to be heard until some time late in 2013.

In December 2012, those appeals took a significant step toward the scheduling of a hearing with the completion of the transcript of the trial. The finalization of the 4,500-page record of the 47-day trial and the pre-trial hearings clears the way for the lawyers representing the three convicted killers to complete their appeal documents and file them with the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Once those final documents are filed, the court will set a date to hear the arguments on behalf of the trio. Among those arguments is the new claim by Hamed Shafia that the trial was “unfair” because the questioning of his mother Tooba by Crown prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis was “protracted, abusive and repetitious to the extent that it rendered the trial unfair.” (Full story of these developments here)

My prison sources tell me that Mohammad Shafia is doing well in prison, living in a unit primarily with other inmates who follow Islam, although Shafia was not a pious, practising Muslim. Shafia and his son Hamed were both shipped to Kingston Penitentiary after their convictions. (UPDATE MAY 22, 2013: Sources tell me that both Hamed and Shafia are now living in general population at Kingston Pen without problems. This isn’t surprising, given KP’s history as a protective custody prison – though not officially described that way by Corrections Canada today – that houses many inmates who would face threats, violence and possible death at the hands of other inmates in many other prisons.) It is not unusual for convicts with large bank accounts outside prison to command respect among fellow prisoners and attract sycophants who hope to profit from phony admiration. My sources say that Hamed was often seen crying in his cell when he first arrived at Kingston Pen. Tooba was first shipped to Grand Valley Institution, a multi-level federal facility for women in Kitchener, Ontario. (UPDATED OCTOBER, 2013: Sources tell me that Hamed and Mohammad Shafia were transferred to the new KP-unit that was created at Millhaven Institution, just west of Kingston, Ontario, when Kingston Penitentiary was shuttered at the end of September.)

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» Watch the entire 14-minute police video of the victims, as they were found underwater in the Rideau Canal on June 30, 2009

» November 2, 2016: Shafia lost appeal explained in under four minutes (VIDEO)
» November 2, 2016: Shafia honour killers lose appeal at Ontario’s top court
» March 6, 2016: Three reasons Shafia honour killing appeals likely to fail
» February 25, 2016: Confounding Shafia family birthdate claim explained  (VIDEO)
» November 23, 2015: Youngest Shafia honour killer claims he was underage at time
» October 14, 2015: Convicted Shafia killers seek new trial; complain of “cultural stereotyping”
» May 7, 2013: Shafia sells strip mall; lawyer bills still owing
» January 7, 2013: The Police report the Shafia jurors did not see
» December 23, 2012: Appeals of Shafias, convicted honour killers, move forward
» January 29, 2012: Shafias guilty of “cold-blooded, shameful” murders
» January 27, 2012: Only three choices, judge tells Shafia jurors
» January 26, 2012: Victims were “diseased limb,” prosecutor tells jurors
» January 25, 2012: No time for murder, defence lawyer tells Shafia jurors
» January 24, 2012: Lawyers have final chance to sway Shafia jurors
» January 18, 2012: Afghan men known to curse, final defence witness says
» January 17, 2012: Shafia son accused of murder will not testify
» January 16, 2012: Accused killer exchanges kiss through glass
» January 13, 2012: “I’m a mother,” we are “not murderers,” accused testifies
» January 12, 2012: I told “all lies” to police, accused Shafia mother testifies
» January 11, 2012: Mother lied to save son, Shafia murder trial hears
» January 10, 2012: Accused killer mother says co-wife was happy, content
» January 9, 2012: Accused honour killing family returns to court as trial nears end
» December 14, 2011: Shafia son seeks judge’s OK to hug accused killer parents
» December 13, 2011: “I wasn’t telling the truth,” Shafia son testifies
» December 12, 2011: Shafia sibling tells trial about happy, liberal home
» December 9, 2011: Murder won’t restore honour, Shafia testifies
» December 8, 2011: Children “cruel” to me, accused honour killer dad says
» December 5, 2011: “Shedding of blood” restores honour, Shafia trial hears
» November 30, 2011: I’m a “dead woman” if parents know of boyfriend: Sahar Shafia
» November 29, 2011: Shafia wife endured abuse for fear she’d be killed, trial hears
» November 28, 2011: Victim overheard murder plot by accused father, trial told
» November 25, 2011: Police lies, trickery in Shafia probe revealed to jurors
» November 24, 2011: Sahar Shafia confided physical, emotional abuse to teachers
» November 23, 2011: Father often threatened to kill them, Shafia daughter told cops
» November 22, 2011: Witness recounts Shafia daughter’s secret relationship
» November 18, 2011: Accused honour killer brother watched sisters drown, trial hears
» November 15, 2011: “I wasn’t there,” accused brother in honour killing told police
» November 14, 2011: “To hell with them,” alleged honour killer dad said of daughters
» November 10, 2011: Second relative testifies that Shafia talked of killing daughter
» November 9, 2011: “They are lying,” accused honour killer father said of children
» November 8, 2011: ‘We will put her in water and drown her’
» November 3, 2011: Trial halted as accused dad hospitalized
» November 2, 2011: Father wanted to kill “just” one daughter, mom told police
» November 1, ,2011: Shafia family had few answers after four vanished
» October 28, 2011: “I don’t know what has happened,” Shafia told police
» October 26, 2011: Car of accused killers pushed death car into canal: Expert
» October 25, 2011: Jurors see submerged victims in eerie underwater video
» October 24, 2011: Diver discovered “strange” scene at sunken death car
» October 21, 2011: First officer at canal suspected car deliberately dumped
» October 20, 2011: “May the devil shit on their graves,” accused honour killer said
» October 18, 2011: Strict rules govern reporting at canal mass murder trial


» Collision reconstructionist Chris Prent’s 94-page report that was not entered as an exhibit at trial
» The critical match: How forensic experts determined that the Shafia SUV was at Kingston Mills
» Superior court indictment and judge’s endorsement of verdicts
» Record of registration of Nissan Sentra purchased by Shafia day before the family left for Niagara Falls
» Rona’s diary (translated to English, with redactions to comply with non-publication orders)
» Receipt for Shafia family stay at Kingston motel June 30, 2009
» Geeti’s plaintive letter to her sister Sahar

Further Reading

Honour killing is a subject that has not had widespread attention in the popular, mainstream press, though there are a handful of accessible books on the subject:

» Murder in the Name of Honor, by Rana Husseini, (Oneworld)
» Honour Killing, by Ayse Onal, (Saqi Books)
» Shame, by Jasvinder Sanghera (Hodder)
» Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Simon & Schuster)

The Shafia case attracted significant national media coverage, much of it excellent:

» The Fifth Estate
» Macleans magazine
» Toronto Star