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Tooba Mohammad YAHYA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - The Crown alleged the family's patriarch was upset that his two eldest daughters wanted boyfriends, betraying his traditional Afghan values
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: June 30, 2009
Date of arrest: July 23, 2009
Date of birth: 1968
Victims profile: Her three daughters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13; and Rona Mohammad Amir, 50
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without a possibility of parole for 25 years on January 29, 2012
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2 photo gallery 3

The Shafia Family murders took place on June 30, 2009 in Kingston, Ontario. Shafia sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, were found dead inside a car that was discovered underwater in front of the northernmost Kingston Mills lock of the Rideau Canal on the same day.

Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti were daughters of Mohammad Shafia, 58 and his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41. The couple also had a son Hamed, 20. Rona, who was herself infertile, was the first wife of Mohammad Shafia in their polygamous household.

On July 23, 2009, Mohammad, Tooba Yahya, and Hamed were arrested on charges of four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder under the guise of honour killing. They were found guilty of all four counts by the jury in January 2012. The trial, which took place at the Frontenac County Court House, was believed to be a first in Canada conducted in four languages – English, French, Dari and Spanish.

The trial garnered media attention in Canada for several months, and raised the debate over Canadian values, honour crimes, and protection of vulnerable immigrant groups.


The Shafia family left Afghanistan for neighboring Pakistan in 1992. From there they moved to Australia then to the United Arab Emirates for over a decade, where Mohammad Shafia had made a fortune in Dubai real estate. They immigrated into Canada and settled in the Saint-Léonard borough of Montreal in 2007.

In 1979 or 1980, Mohammad Shafia married Rona Mohammed, who was infertile and unable to have children. In 1989, he took Tooba Yahya to be his second wife in a polygamous marriage, and she gave birth to seven children, though Rona played a crucial role in their upbringing and raised the children as if they were her own. When the family immigrated to Canada, Rona was presented as an aunt. Except Rona, the rest of the Shafia family practiced Shi'a Islam.

According to a family member's interview, Rona was trapped in an abusive, loveless marriage, trying in vain to convince her husband to grant her a divorce. Rona's siblings claimed that she feared for her life during the days leading up to her death. Yahya, the second wife, allegedly said to Rona “You are a slave, you are a servant.” Reportedly, the Shafias held all of Rona’s identity documents, including her passport, so Rona believed she could not flee to another country, where she had relatives. It was reported that Rona came to Canada as a domestic servant on a visitor's visa and the "[visa's] renewal held over her head like an axe ready to fall" by her husband and co-wife.

They also stated that the family's eldest daughter Zainab's relationship with a Pakistani boy was a source of much anger for her father, and they claimed to have overheard the father's threats to kill her.

With parents Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and eldest son Hamed Shafia all in custody during the trial, the remaining Shafia children (two girls and a boy) are being cared for under social services.


On June 30, 2009, a black Nissan Sentra with a broken left taillight was spotted submerged at the Kingston Mills locks, with four female bodies found inside. Mohammad Shafia was at the Kingston Police station to report that four of their family – three teenage daughters and a purported aunt – were missing. Police initially believed that it was a tragic, if bizarre, accident, and first categorized it as a "sudden death investigation".

However, authorities soon learned that Hamed had reported an accident with the family Lexus SUV in an empty parking lot early that same morning in Montreal. Despite their suspicions, the authorities did not have "reasonable and probable grounds" or sufficient evidence to ask a judge for a search warrant. Kingston Police Det. Steve Koopman, the liaison with the Shafia family, managed to gain the Shafias' consent so that they could view the Lexus. After assessing the damage on both vehicles, police theorized that the Lexus was used to ram the Nissan into the locks.

It has been reported that the Shafia family purchased the used Nissan Sentra for CAD$ 5,000 one day before the family left Montreal for Niagara Falls.


Jury selection began on October 11, and the trial officially began on October 20. The trial was presided over by Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger.


On January 29, 2012, the jury completed its deliberation after 15 hours and reached a verdict of guilty, four counts of first degree murder for each of the three defendants. First degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without a possibility of parole for 25 years.

Media Coverage of the Shafia Murder Trial

The coverage of the Shafia murder trial was widespread, often being on the front page of newspapers and the top story in TV newscasts. Since the case involved Afghan Canadians, questions arose as to whether or not it is correct or even appropriate to call the murders honour killing or simply domestic violence. While the judge who deliberated on the case referred to the act simply as murder, the media chose a different course when it called the murder honour killing. Across media outlets, the murder was framed as such. A publication ban placed on the case prevented the media from naming the four children that are still alive.


CBC News covered the trials from day 1 and went a step further by publishing its audience's comments to show how Canadians feel about the case and its details. The CBC stated that the story garnered many comments from the viewers but that they decided to publish a select few. Furthermore, the CBC did a "summary" of the comments and said that people generally "agreed with the verdict, applauding the court and the jury for its decision after the three-month trial."


CTV News published a piece saying that the trial has cast a shadow over Canada's Islamic community, further tarnishing an image that has not yet recovered from the events of 911. But like other media outlets, CTV has asked the Muslim community to clarify their stance on the issue of honour killing. “Muslims across the country, however, say the revelations in a Kingston, Ont., courtroom have shone a light on problematic aspects of their culture and illuminated new ways to tackle the issues.”

CTV also published a timeline of not just the events that took place in Canada but also going back all the way to the Shafia family’s days in Afghanistan.

Ottawa Citizen

Pascale Fourniersaid writing for the Ottawa Citizen said that there was a greater tragedy in the failure of the state to intervene before the murders occurred, and that vulnerable groups from immigrant communities need the most protection but rarely get it.

The Globe and Mail

In addition to covering every detail of the trial, The Globe and Mail published a piece with the "ten most shocking quotes" from the Shafia trial one of which was by Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis after the verdicts which is as follows:

“This jury found that four strong, vivacious and freedom-loving women were murdered by their own family in the most troubling of circumstances. We all think of these four, wonderful women now who died needless deaths. This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy.”

This was one of the most criticized quotes by Afghan Canadians, as they asserted that intolerance towards violence against women is not just a Canadian value but a universal value and Afghans like any other peoples condemn the acts of the perpetrators.

Montreal Gazette

The Montreal Gazette published a column in which it said that labelling the murders as honour killing is a mistake because domestic violence against women is ubiquitous and framing it into a particular category would mean distancing oneself from a crime that is all too common. The authors argue that premeditation is put forth as a core component to differentiate honour killings from other types of murders, such as crimes of convenience or crimes of passion. However, recent studies indicate that premeditation is as much a component in other cases of domestic violence and murder as it is in "honour killings."

"Calling the murders "honour killings" accomplishes two goals. First, it makes it seem as if femicide is a highly unusual event. Second, it makes it seem as if femicide is confined to specific populations within Canada and specific national cultures or religions in the world at large. But Canadian statistics prove otherwise. Ac-cording to StatsCan figures, from 2000 to 2009 an average of 58 women a year were killed in this country as a result of spousal violence. In that same period, 67 children and young people aged 12 to 17 were murdered by family members. In contrast, recent estimates tell us that there have been 12 or 13 so-called honour killings in Canada in the last decade. It does not take a genius to see that comparing 12 or 13 against the hundreds of women and children who were victims of familial violence serves only to frame "honour killing" as peculiar, when in reality it is part of a larger pattern of violence against women.


Maclean's outdid the rest of the media when it called the four murders “honouricide.” While the word “honouricide” literally means “killing of honour” but were getting at the idea of “killing for honour.” Writer Michael Friscolanti sat throughout the three-month trial and wrote a 22-page comprehensive article detailing the girls’ lives and even wrote about how one of the girls’ tombstones has the incorrect birthdate.

“In life, and in death, they had no voice. No one to save them. No one who even cares enough to fix Geeti's headstone. Nearly three years after she was buried, it is still engraved with Sahar's birth-date, not hers."

Pascale Fournier, writing for The Ottawa Citizen, said that there was a greater tragedy in the failure of the state to intervene before the murders occurred, and that vulnerable groups from immigrant communities need the most protection but rarely get it.


The widespread media coverage pressured the Muslim as well as the Afghan community in Canada to come out and speak about the murders.

Muslims in Canada

It has also given rise to the debate about the relationship of honour killing and Islam. Islamic organizations based in Canada condemned the murders. The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, along with other Canadian Muslim organizations, have publicly denounced domestic violence and honour killing as "un-Islamic". Ali Falih Altaie, the family imam, said that the murders were "unforgivable", and cautioned against associating honour crimes with Islam, calling the actions incompatible with any religion.

In 2012 imams from across Canada and the U.S. issued a moral ruling officially condemning honour killings, domestic violence and misogyny as "un-Islamic." Thirty-four imams belonging to the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, including a handful of American members, signed the fatwa in an effort to counter misinterpretations of the Qur'an, they said.

Afghan Canadians

The Afghan Embassy in Ottawa in an interview with CTVS News condemned the murders of four members of a Montreal family originally from Afghanistan. The embassy called the deaths of the three teenaged sisters and their father's first wife "a heinous crime against humanity." Moreover, they claimed that this kind of crime is not part of Afghan or Islamic culture and "is not acceptable in any way."


Shafia jury finds all guilty of 1st-degree murder

By melinda Dalton - CBC News

January 29, 2012

A Montreal couple and their son were convicted Sunday of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members in a case the judge called "despicable," "heinous" and stemming from "a completely twisted concept of honour."

Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed, who had pleaded not guilty, were each handed an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. They were accused of killing Hamed's three sisters and his father's childless first wife in a polygamous marriage.

The bodies of Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, along with Rona Mohammad Amir, 50, were found in the family’s Nissan, submerged in a lock on the Rideau Canal on June 30, 2009.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime," Justice Robert Maranger said.

"The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour … that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

'We didn't commit the murder'

When Maranger asked whether they wanted to say anything, each declared their innocence.

"We didn't commit the murder and this is unjust," Mohammad Shafia said through a translator. "Your honourable justice, this is not just. I am not a murderer and I am a mother," Yahya said.

Hamed Shafia said in English: "Sir, I did not drown my sisters anywhere."

One female juror started crying after the verdict was read. Hamed grabbed a hold of the prisoners' box for support, his parents rubbing his back as each juror affirmed the verdict.

"This is a good day for Canadian justice," the chief Crown prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis said outside the courthouse, adding the four women were "murdered by their family in the most troubling of circumstances."

"This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and core principles in a free, democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy," he said.

In a statement following the verdict, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honour killings a practice that is "barbaric and unacceptable in Canada."

"This government is committed to protecting women and other vulnerable persons from all forms of violence and to hold perpetrators accountable for their acts."

Patrick McCann, Hamed’s lawyer, told The Canadian Press his client will appeal and his parents likely will as well.

The verdict came after about 15 hours of deliberations, less than 48 hours after the jury was charged by Maranger.

Moosa Hadi, the private investigator hired by the Shafia family to find "the truth," was removed by police after shouting at the prosecutor that the decision was an "injustice."

Traditional values

During the nearly three-month trial, the Crown maintained the family road trip was part of a plot to kill the four because they had tainted the family’s honour. The Crown alleged the family's patriarch was upset that his two eldest daughters wanted boyfriends, betraying his traditional Afghan values.

The Shafias moved to Canada in 2007. They fled their native Afghanistan more than 15 years earlier and had lived in Dubai and Australia before moving the family to Montreal and applied for citizenship.

At the time of the deaths, they were all permanent residents, except for Amir who had only a visitor's visa. They told authorities, and initially maintained after the deaths, that Amir was Mohammad Shafia’s cousin.

Mohammad Shafia, by all accounts a prosperous business man, owned commercial property in the Montreal area and ran a business buying used cars in North America and shipping them overseas.

Rona Amir was Shafia’s first wife. The couple wed in an arranged marriage in Kabul before civil war broke out in their homeland. Amir wasn’t able to conceive and encouraged Shafia to take another wife, which he did in 1989, marrying Tooba Yahya in another arranged marriage.

Yahya and Shafia had seven children, which Rona helped to raise. Court heard Yahya gave daughter Sahar to her co-wife to raise as her own.

However, the family situation deteriorated for Amir over time. Her diary details her trials and tribulations in the family and states she was like a servant to the preferred wife, Yahya. She describes a lonely life in Canada and that she would “wander in parks and cry.” Court also heard testimony about her unsuccessful request for a divorce. According to the diary, Yahya likened her to a dead weight.

Eldest daughters had secret boyfriends

Zainab and Sahar, the two eldest daughters, also had trouble assimilating into life in Montreal within the strict boundaries of the household rules, which included a prohibition on relationships with boys. Both had secret boyfriends, wore fashionable clothes and, according to evidence heard in court, resisted pressure from their parents and eldest brother to wear the hijab.

They both reported incidents or threats of violence from their father and brother to authorities.

Geeti was described by the Crown as a rebel. While there’s no evidence to show she was hiding any boyfriends, she also resisted her family’s rules and had been caught shoplifting and expelled from class for wearing a shirt deemed too revealing.

The murder plot came to include Sahar, according to the Crown, when photos of her with boys and dressed in revealing clothes were discovered and a younger sibling spotted her at a restaurant with her boyfriend and reported it back to the parents and Hamed.

The photos, which the defence claimed were found after the deaths, were recovered by police in a suitcase in Hamed’s room. They were in a pocket that also contained his used boarding passes from a trip to Dubai to meet his father earlier in June.

Geeti and Amir were also killed because they had also been involved in acts of betrayal and couldn’t be counted on to tell the same story after the deaths, according to the Crown’s case.

While the jury had a significant amount of evidence to consider, more than 160 exhibits and testimony from nearly 60 witnesses, most of that evidence was circumstantial.

It included computer searches made on the Shafia laptop, most often used by Hamed, for things including: “Where to commit a murder;” “Can a prisoner have control over his real estate;” and other various searches for bodies of water.

It also included seemingly damning wiretaps of the accused discussing the state of the Kingston locks at night, making disparaging remarks about the women and, in Mohammad Shafia’s case, remarks about the value of family honour.

The jury saw a series of police interviews with the accused where they at first all told the same story about the incident; Yahya later claimed she had been there and fainted when the car went into the water. She later recanted that story.

They heard from collision experts who talked about damage on the Nissan that was consistent with coming into contact with the family’s Lexus SUV.

They heard from the motel manager in Kingston who recalled Hamed and Shafia checking in that night and telling him there would only be six guests in two rooms. He recalled them leaving after check-in and seeing only one vehicle.

They heard arguments from the defence about a timeline of the night, based largely on cellphone records, which the lawyers said proved the accused wouldn’t have enough time to drown the women after reaching Kingston just before 2 a.m. and for Hamed to reach Montreal, where his phone was recorded at 6:48 a.m. on June 30.

What they didn’t hear was exactly how the women died. They drowned, that’s certain according to the forensic pathologist who signed off on their post mortem exams.

However, the Crown could not conclusively tell the jury where they drowned or why they sat seemingly calm in the Nissan with the window open and in relatively shallow water.

Bruising on their heads

The Crown’s theory was that the women were drowned elsewhere or incapacitated and then put in the car. That was supported by evidence of fresh bruising on the heads of three out of the four women

The car was in first gear when it was pulled from the water with the ignition off. The headlights were also off, the girls weren’t wearing seatbelts and the seats were reclined at an awkward angle.

This, the prosecution told the jury, supported the theory that they were placed in the car which was then pushed into the locks by the family’s SUV. Pieces of the SUV's headlights were found at the scene.

However, the defence argued, without conclusive proof of how the car went into the water, no one would know exactly what happened that night and it might well have been an accident.

Hamed Shafia gave another version of the events to a private investigator hired by his father after the arrests. He said he followed the girls and rear ended the car by accident when they stopped short at the lock.

Car plunged into water

While he was picking up pieces of the broken headlight, the car plunged in the water as the driver was trying to turn around. He rushed over, called their names, dangled a rope in the water, but when no one responded he took off to Montreal and didn’t report the incident because he said he feared his father’s anger.

He then staged an accident in Montreal to cover the damage to the SUV.

Hamed’s lawyer told the court in his closing arguments his client was guilty of being “stupid” but not murder.

The jury of seven women and five men listened to more than 40 days of proceedings that included delays for a health emergency with Mohammad Shafia, a power outage caused by an ice storm and an evacuation caused by a security threat at the courthouse.


Shafia mom scolds prosecutors, police

CBC News

January 16, 2012

A mother charged with killing three of her daughters and the first wife in her polygamous marriage accused prosecutors of making up stories and criticized authorities for jailing a "respectable family," during her last day of cross-examination.

Tooba Yahya, 41, faced a sixth day of grilling about the circumstances surrounding the early morning on June 30, 2009, when Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, along with Rona Amir, 52, were found dead in a car submerged in the Kingston Mills lock.

Yahya, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 59, and their son Hamed, 21, are all charged with four counts of first-degree murder and have pleaded not guilty.

During testimony in a Kingston, Ont., court late Monday morning, Yahya said she had been "wrongfully charged" and described the arrest of the three accused as unjustified.

"This was a respectable family that was grieving and they put them under arrest," she said. "Under this suspicion you brought a respected family and put them into jail for two years. You took the freedom and the family's freedom and put us in [jail]."

Yahya also compared the Crown's theories about what happened that night to a child's bedtime stories.

"This is a court date," she told Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis. "People want to know the truth, not to make up stories from your mind."

Victims wanted to leave, Crown says

The Crown alleges the four family members were killed because Sahar and Zainab Shafia were thought to have dishonoured the family by having boyfriends and living a modern lifestyle.

Laarhuis argued that the victims were under the tight control of Yahya and Mohammad Shafia, noting that all four expressed a desire to leave the family's home. Yahya denied this was true.

Yahya was also asked about her reaction to wiretap transcripts obtained by authorities before the three accused were arrested in July 2009, in which she says police lied about having video surveillance at the lock.

"Why are you adamant that the police are lying?" Laarhuis asked Monday. "Why aren't you relieved that they now have footage of what happened to your daughters?"

Yahya denied saying that police had lied. Her only concern, she said, was that the camera could have captured the family's previous visits to the site in 2008 and on their way to Niagara Falls in 2009.

As the judge was adjourning the court for recess, one of the Shafia children ran up to the glass partition where the accused were seated, banged on the glass and kissed Mohammad Shafia through the glass.

Shafia half-siblings testify

The court also heard from two of Mohammad Shafia's half-siblings.

Farida Nayebkheil said Shafia was not religious and grew up in a liberal household in Afghanistan. She and her sisters attended university and did not wear the hijab, which she said was normal for their family.

Under cross-examination, Nayebkheil misidentified Sahar in a photo and said she hadn't seen the family for years but spoke regularly to Shafia's first wife on the phone.

Nayebkheil testified she was surprised to learn Shafia called his daughters whores after they died, and Crown attorney Laurie Lacelle suggested in cross-examination that Nayebkheil doesn't know her half-brother very well.

Nayebkheil, who was born in Kabul and has also lived in Turkey and Moscow, has spent the past 17 years in Denmark and did not have regular contact with her brother, court heard. She didn't learn until two weeks after the incident that her nieces had died, she said.

Shafia's half-brother, Dr. Mohammad Anwar Yaqubi, testified that his relationship with Shafia growing up was "very sincere."

Shafia married Yahya because his first wife couldn't have children, Yaqubi said. He told the court that Shafia's first wife was happy about the marriage and attended Shafia and Yahya's wedding in Kabul.

"It shows how much sincerity and love there was between these two women." he said. "Rona was very happy and grateful to dear Tooba."

Yaqubi said before her death, Shafia's first wife would contact him about once a month, usually to talk about family issues and what was happening with everyone in the family. He said she never complained about Yahya or said anything about any problems concerning the children.

He also testified about Shafia's temper, saying his brother often used angry expressions.

"The weapon he had was his tongue," Shafia's brother testified. "When someone didn't pay him on time or there was a betrayal … he just said that … That was the way he expressed his rage."

Before the proceedings concluded for the day, the defence lawyer asked Yaqubi, "Did you ever have a real concern that he would actually kill someone?" Yaqubi responded, "No. Never."

Accused claims statement made under duress

In testimony last week, Yahya said she had no knowledge of how the four family members ended up at the bottom of the lock on the Rideau Canal.

Yahya said an earlier version of events, in which she told a police officer she had been at the scene, was a fabrication made up under duress.

She maintained that the last time she saw the victims was at the hotel where the family stopped for the night during their return to Montreal from a family vacation in Niagara Falls, Ont.

On Friday, Laarhuis laid out the prosecution's theory about what happened that night.

He said the four never made it to that hotel. He alleged that Yahya drove them right to the lock and met up with Shafia and Hamed after they dropped off the other children.

Car rammed into canal, Crown says

Laarhuis alleged that the four, who were either sleeping or already dead, were in the Nissan when someone positioned it in front of the lock, rolled down the window, got out and put it into drive.

When the car got hung up on its way into the water, he alleged, someone got behind the wheel of the family's Lexus and pushed the Nissan into the lock.

Yahya denied this version of events, saying she would have done anything for her daughters.

She said she had gone right to sleep at the hotel after her daughter Zainab came in and asked for the keys and didn't know the women were missing until the next day.

The family waited until noon to report them missing, she said, because they thought they would return, and the parents didn't speak English or know the area.


Shafia mom tells court 'we're not murderers'

CBC News

January 13, 2012

The Montreal mother at the centre of the Shafia murder trial on Friday denied that she killed her daughters, telling the Kingston, Ont., court that her family are "not murderers."

Tooba Yahya made the comments in court after prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis laid out in detail how the Crown believes Yahya, along with her husband Mohammad Shafia and 21-year-old son Hamed Shafia, killed her three daughters and her husband's other wife.

The three are charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the June 2009 drowning deaths in the Kingston Mills lock. They have all pleaded not guilty.

"No sir, we are not murderers. We are a very sincere family.… If you were a mother, then you could have known what is a heart of a mother for a child. Don't ever tell me that I killed my children," Yahya said.

Laarhuis alleges the accused drove the victims directly to the locks. He said somebody left the car running, rolled down the window, put the gearshift in neutral and aimed the wheels of the car.

Laarhuis said that next someone reached through the open window and put the car into gear, thinking that on its own power, the vehicle would go into the water.

"What you did not expect, what was not part of the plan, was that the Nissan would get hung up. There was now an emergency, now you had bodies in the car hung up on the edge of the canal," Laarhuis said.

Laarhius said that Shafia or his son got behind the wheel of their Lexus and, as described by a collision expert, hit the Nissan into the canal, damaging both vehicles and causing the Nissan to spin as it sank.

But Yahya denied the account.

The prosecutor has made the suggestion that the three daughters and Amir were dead when their bodies were put in the car then pushed into the water. However, there's been no proof offered to the court of the theory.

A forensic expert who testified said the cause of death was drowning, but he couldn't say whether the four family members drowned in the canal locks or elsewhere.

Yahya has been testifying in the Kingston, Ont., courtroom since Monday about her recollection of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of her daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13, and the first wife in her polygamous marriage, Rona Amir.

The accused maintain the deaths were an accident that occurred when inexperienced driver Zainab Shafia took the car without permission and took her sisters and Amir on a joyride.

Earlier Friday, Yahya was questioned by Laarhuis about her brother's claim that her husband told him he was planning to kill their 19-year-old daughter Zainab

Yahya said in court that she didn't know about her brother's claim regarding the threat until the funeral and that her husband and her brother had been "enemies".

"How could I have believed [him]?" she said. "How is it possible that I can accept someone who is [an] enemy of 20 years?"

She said if her brother was concerned about the safety of the children, he should have called police and told her about her husband's alleged plan.

Laarhuis asked Yahya if she felt there would have been a risk to her own safety if she called police and left with the children.

"I never expected that from Shafie," she said. "I never expected Shafie to be such a person to kill his children.… If a person knows their children are in danger, a person will do all the things to safeguard the life of their children."

Yahya was not suggesting that Shafia was involved in deaths, only that she never felt unsafe or that Shafia wasn't the type of person who would harm her or the children.

Yahya also testified on Friday that it's common for Afghan men who are angry at their daughters to call them "whores."

Yahya was questioned by Laarhuis about several incidents when her husband was angered by his children. Shafia is heard on wiretaps before their arrests calling the deceased girls treacherous and whores.

Yahya testified that the level of anger heard on those wiretaps was the same kind of anger Shafia expressed during incidents where he believed the girls misbehaved.

"Kids would hear these rants and uncontrollable rage and you're saying that didn't cause you any concern for the safety of your children?" Laarhuis asked.

"These are something that was recorded in our ears for many years. Most Afghan people are the same. When they are angry they are telling and swearing. It's not just Shafia but most Afghan men and women. They are the same," Yahya said.

Laarhuis asked Yahya if she was saying that Afghan men, when they're mad at their daughters, routinely call them whores.

"Sometimes when they get very angry — yes," Yahya said.

The bodies of the four women were found submerged inside the family's Nissan sedan in the Kingston Mills lock. The family, which moved to Canada in 2007, was allegedly en route home to Montreal after a visit to Niagara Falls. The Crown's case alleges a so-called honour killing in which the girls were killed because their behaviour and forbidden boyfriends brought shame to the family

Yahya said she has never heard of an honour killing and called the notion "stupid."

She has spent much of the week trying to explain some evidence presented by the prosecution, including an interrogation taped after her arrest in July 2009 in which she admits to being at the lock that night and fainting after hearing a splash.

In court, Yahya said that was a lie she concocted in response to evidence presented to her by police. She said she was under immense pressure from the interrogator and was under the impression, based on a conversation with another officer, that her son was being tortured.


Shafia mother admits lying to police

CBC News

January 12, 2012

The Montreal mother accused in the deaths of her three daughters and her husband's first wife admitted in a Kingston, Ont., court Thursday to lying to police after her arrest.

Crown prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis questioned Tooba Yahya, 41, about her account of the night of the four deaths that she gave to police after her arrest. He read a portion of the transcript in which Yahya denies that the family had ever been at the Kingston Mills Locks before police took them there on July 18.

The interviewing officer knew the denial wasn't true, as the accused were heard on an intercept on their way home July 18 discussing three times they had been at the locks.

Laarhuis brought up points in the transcript of the police interview with Yahya in which she described portions of the area around the locks.

"You told (the officer) that because that's what you remember," Laarhuis said.

Yahya responded: "I just lied to him. I told him that. I made that thing in order that he will leave me and I will get rid of him and he will not accuse me of lying 100 times."

Laarhuis asked Yahya if the pressure in the courtroom was the same as the pressure the day of her arrest. She said the pressure is the same but the "time is different."

"The pressure is not causing you to tell a lie here today is it?" Laarhuis asked.

Yahya responded, "No."

Yahya, who was in the witness box for a fourth day, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 59, and their eldest son Hamed, 21, have pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder.

Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, were found in a submerged car at the bottom of the Kingston Mills Locks in late June 2009 along with Mohammad Shafia's first wife, Rona Amir, 52.

Also Thursday, the prosection spent time questioning Yahya on her intentions during the police interrogation. During the interview, an officer presented Yahya with evidence from the scene, including broken glass that matched the family's Lexus SUV.

She responded during the interview by repeatedly questioning the officer about who was driving the vehicle.

In court, Laarhuis contended that Yahya's questions were meant to deflect blame from herself and Hamed, because in all previous accounts, Hamed had been behind the wheel of the SUV when the family arrived in Kingston.

"You're not being pressured to do or say anything — you are fixated on this point," Laarhuis said. "What proof do the police have as to who was driving?"

"I don't agree," Yahya responded.

Photos of daughters

On Wednesday, Yahya told the court she didn't feel dishonoured by pictures of her daughters wearing revealing clothing while with their boyfriends.

However, it was those photos, allegedly found after the girls' deaths, that sent her husband into a rage captured on a series of police wiretaps, Yahya said.

The Crown alleges the girls were killed because they brought shame and dishonour to the family.

On Wednesday, Yahya also faced questions about an account given to the court by a student who assisted the defence in preparation for the trial.

He earlier told the court that Hamed admitted he witnessed the accident, but didn't alert authorities because he was afraid of the wrath of his father. After dangling a rope in the canal and seeing no signs of life, he allegedly drove back to Montreal and told no one, according to the student's account.

'If it was an accident, he should have told us'

Yahya said if Hamed did indeed witness the deaths, he should have told his parents about the accident.

She said the first time she heard that account was in court. Yahya said he must have been frightened and under pressure.

"Are you defending Hamed now for not having told you?" Laarhuis asked.

"No," Yahya replied.

"If it was an accident, he should have told us … I'm upset with Hamed and my heart is bleeding. He should have told me what my children's death was."

Yahya and Shafia, who have both testified in their own defence, maintained that the girls and Amir went into the locks after their eldest daughter took the keys from her mother in the early morning on June 30.

They both testified that they have no idea how the car ended up in the canal, but concluded it must have been an accident with their unlicensed and inexperienced daughter Zainab at the wheel.

The court has not heard directly from Hamed Shafia.

The trial, which started in October, is now in its final phase and is scheduled to wrap up next week before the jury deliberates.


Shafia mom says teen's photos not a 'dishonour'

CBC News

January 11, 2012

The Montreal mother accused in the deaths of her three daughters and her husband's first wife told a Kingston, Ont., courtroom Wednesday that photos of one of the girls in revealing clothing was not a dishonour to her.

"[Sahar] was young, it doesn't matter if she took those pictures at that time," Tooba Yahya testified, adding that all teenagers take such images.

Yahya is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of her daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, as well as her co-accused husband Mohammad Shafia's first wife Rona Amir, 52. The couple's eldest son Hamed, 21, is also charged with murder.

The Crown contends the females were victims of so-called honour killings. The accused have pleaded not guilty.

"If they took naked pictures, it wasn't a dishonour," Yahya said earlier Wednesday to a packed courtroom on her third day of testimony.

The Crown grilled Yahya on specific details relating to the discovery of racy photos of her daughters.

She appeared tired and a number of spectators left the courtroom towards the end of the day. At one point, Yahya said she could not remember the date of the funeral for her three daughters.

Photos enraged Shafia

The photos, which depicted her two oldest daughters with their boyfriends and wearing lingerie, have been central to the case. The Crown is trying to nail down exactly when they were discovered by the family.

Yahya has testified she found the pictures several days after the bodies of the four women were discovered in the Kingston Mills lock in June 2009.

However, media interviews show the family holding a nearly identical album in the immediate aftermath of the deaths. Yahya has said they had several identical books.

The photos set the elder Shafia off on an angry tirade — recorded by police — in which he claimed he would cut his daughters with a cleaver if they ever returned to life, and "may the devil shit on their graves."

Yahya testified on Tuesday that Shafia was simply venting his rage, and he had only discovered the photos in mid-July 2009 in a hiding place in the family's Montreal home.

Part of the Crown's case involved testimony from two of the girls' boyfriends in what are alleged to have been forbidden relationships.

The prosecution also questioned Yahya about condoms found in the room belonging to Geeti, Sahar and Amir, which were discovered by their father shortly after their deaths. Why hadn't they sparked the same sort of outrage from him that the pictures had, she was asked.

Yahya testified that Shafia gave them to her but that they "didn't have much value" because they likely belonged to the elder sister Zainab, who was briefly married for 24 hours in May 2009.

Honour killing 'a stupid thing'

Yahya was also queried about an incident in which a boyfriend of Zainab's was discovered in their home but made to leave by brother Hamed.

She said that episode prompted a concern that Zainab might commit suicide, something Yahya said happened in cases of forbidden love in her native Afghanistan.

"You heard about that but you never heard about honour killings in Afghanistan?" prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis asked, referring to a statement made by Yahya on Tuesday.

"No, I never heard such a stupid thing," she said.

The Crown also grilled Yahya aggressively on her previous claim that she lied to police about being at the scene of the deaths to prevent her co-accused son Hamed from being tortured.

On July 22, 2009, Yahya told police she was at the lock and heard a splash before fainting and then waking up the next morning. She later recanted that version of events.

"How was that story going to save him from being tortured?" prosecutor Laarhuis asked Wednesday.

Yahya replied that she was telling the officer what she thought he wanted to hear.

Earlier in the trial, court heard that on the day of the drownings, the family had been returning to their home following a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont. They had stopped at a motel in Kingston for the night.

The high-profile trial began in October but was adjourned for three weeks over the holidays. It resumed Monday with Yahya in the witness box. The trial is expected to last another two weeks.

The family moved to Montreal in 2007 after fleeing Afghanistan several years earlier.


Shafia mother says 'I lied' about being at death scene

CBC News

January 10, 2012

The Montreal mother accused of the first-degree murder of her three daughters and her husband's first wife testified Tuesday morning in front of a packed Kingston, Ont., courtroom that she lied to police when she said she was at the scene where the alleged killings took place.

Tooba Yahya, 41, said she made up a story about being at the Kingston Mills lock, where the bodies of her daughters Zainab,19, Sahara, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, as well as first wife Rona Amir were found in June 2009 because she feared her co-accused son Hamed would be tortured by police.

On Tuesday, the Crown probed why she had such an understanding when RCMP officers said her son would "cool his heels" in jail and drink ice water.

"The way [the officer] was speaking in [the] Iranian language and the way I understood in my language, was that he'll be under freezing water," Yahya testified Tuesday.

As a result, she told police on July 22, 2009, that she had been at the scene when the car carrying the four females went into the water — but fainted after she heard a splash and couldn't recall anything beyond that.

Yahya said that she realized her error later and tried to explain her mistake to police the next day.

"I was thinking I have to say to police I lied and I have done that for Hamed and because of that nothing good will come out of it," she said.

Accused have pleaded not guilty

Yahya has been charged along with her husband, Mohammad Shafia, 59, and her son in the first-degree murder of the four females. The Crown contends the females were victims of so-called honour killings.

The accused have pleaded not guilty.

Yahya's statement that she was at the Kingston lock deviates from the one the family originally told police — that daughter Zainab had taken the keys to the car at the hotel where the family was staying and that was the last time anyone saw the drowning victims. The accused have said they were in their beds at the hotel at the time investigators believe the car went into the water.

On Tuesday, Yahya also sought to downplay wiretap evidence that recorded her husband saying he would cut the girls with a cleaver if they ever returned to life and "may the devil shit on their graves."

She said Shafia was simply angry because he had uncovered photos of the girls after their deaths with their boyfriends and wearing what he considered to be inappropriate clothing. Yahya said he was using common Afghan expressions to vent his rage.

Yahya said the photos were discovered in a pink album several days after the bodies of the four females were found in the Kingston locks. Her husband's rage, she said, was a result of that discovery.

However, prosecutors asked Tuesday why Yahya and Shafia were seen during media interviews in the immediate aftermath of the deaths — and at least a few days before she claims to have found the pictures — with a nearly identical album.

Yahya responded by saying the family has a number of the exact same photo albums.

She also denied ever hearing about so-called honour killings

"In 21 years when I was in Afghanistan, I never see that a stupid mother or a stupid father do anything like this," she said, adding that honour cannot be restored with an act of violence.

Final 2 weeks of testimony

In her first day of testimony, Yahya denied all but one incident of physical abuse in the home. She also denied claims made during the prosecution's case that she and Rona Amir, Shafia's first wife in the polygamous marriage, were rivals. She said she was close with Amir, and the pair split household tasks.

She also testified the children had few restrictions placed on them, but were told they were not allowed to date until they had their high school diplomas.

Part of the Crown's case involved testimony from two of the girls' boyfriends in what were alleged to have been forbidden relationships.

The family moved to Montreal in 2007 after fleeing Afghanistan several years earlier.

Earlier in the trial, court heard that on the day of the drownings, the family had been returning to their home following a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont. They had stopped at a motel in Kingston for the night.

The high-profile trial began in October but was adjourned for three weeks over the holidays. It resumed Monday with Yahya in the witness box. The trial is expected to last another two weeks.

The Crown will continue its cross-examination of Yahya Wednesday morning.


Shafia mother disputes accounts in diary

CBC News

January 9, 2012

The Montreal woman accused of killing three teenage daughters and her husband's other wife took the witness stand in her own defence Monday to dispute claims she had rocky relationships with family members.

Tooba Yahya, 42, her husband, Mohammad Shafia, 59, and their eldest son, Hamed, 20, each face four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the Shafia sisters — Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13 — and Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, Shafia's other wife in a polygamous marriage.

Their bodies were discovered in a car submerged in a canal near Kingston in July 2009. The cause of death was determined to be drowning.

The defendants, who have been jailed since their arrests in 2009, have pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Within minutes of her testimony, Yahya broke down in tears, causing a brief delay in proceedings, as she recounted her relationship with her husband's other wife. Yahya said she felt sorry for Rona Amir because she wasn't able to bear children, adding she even gave the woman her daughter Sahar to raise.

The high-profile trial began in October in Kingston and was adjourned for three weeks over the holidays. It recommenced Monday morning in what is expected to be the final two weeks of arguments.

The family moved to Montreal in 2007 after fleeing Afghanistan several years earlier.

The Crown contends the victims were killed because the girls' behaviour and boyfriends brought shame on the family in the eyes of the accused.

After taking the stand, Yahya maintained she had a good relationship with Rona Amir, despite the fact that Amir had written in her diary that Yahya "separated Shafie from me forever" and "took the power of the household from me."

Yahya testified she and Shafia never limited the other wife's movements or her finances.

Diary 'didn't have any meaning for us'

She told the court she found the diary while cleaning the house after the deaths.

"It didn't have any meaning for us. I just put it there on the table. There was no need for me to hide that or burn that," she told the court.

Yahya also testified that when her husband returned from a business trip, she would not tell him about any disciplinary issues with the children, "because of his habit to make small things — he used to make it a big thing."

She said one time she saw Shafia strike the children, but that the parents would always try to verbally discipline them or take away their allowance instead.

Yahya testified the Shafia children did not fast for Islam's holy month of Ramadan. She said her husband didn't want them to because he was concerned it would "stunt their growth."

She said she taught the children about their religion, but did not force it on them. The defence showed a number of family photos and noted that most of the female members seen in them were not wearing the Islamic hijab head-covering.

Daughter acted out when 'she wanted expensive things'

The defence later questioned Yahya about another claim in the diary, where Rona Amir writes about a suicide attempt by Sahar after an argument. In the diary, Rona describes the girl swallowing the preservative that comes in purses and Yahya dismissing it, saying, "Let her kill herself."

Yahya presented a different version of what happened. She didn't deny that Sahar swallowed the preservative, but said she spit it up and refused medical attention. She said Sahar frequently said, "I'll kill myself" when she didn't get her way.

Yahya said one of Sahar's teachers offered her an explanation for the girl's behaviour. She told the court the teacher said, "Because you love her a lot, she is abusing this emotion whenever she wants expensive things."

Earlier in the trial, court heard that on the day of the drownings, the family had been returning to Montreal following a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont. They had stopped at a motel in Kingston for the night.

The defence has maintained the deaths were an accident that happened after the elder daughter, Zainab, took the keys to her father’s car and drove it into the Rideau Canal in June 2009.

Court has already heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, including family members, teachers, social workers, police officers and technical experts.

Jury members have also heard a series of wiretap conversations between the accused recorded secretly by the Kingston police.


Timeline: Shafia family murder trial

Tooba Yahya, 42, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their eldest son, Hamed, 20, were found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.

Global News and The Gazette

Thursday, February 09, 2012

TORONTO - It’s a case that captured headlines nationwide.

Sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and 13-year-old Geeti Shafia, were discovered with their polygamist father's first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, in the car in the Rideau Canal in June 2009.

The girls' father, Mohammad Shafia, 58, and his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed Mohammad Shafia, 20, were charged with first-degree murder in the deaths.

On January 27, Judge Robert Maranger told the jury they could reach different verdicts for the three accused, and that the options available to them were guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.

After 15 hours of deliberation, on January 29, 2012, the jury found the accused guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. Global News takes a look at key events that were unveiled during the infamous Rideau Canal murder trial.

August 6, 2009 - Shafias appear in court via video

The Montreal father, mother and their son charged with the mass murder of four of their family members appear briefly via video at a Kingston courthouse with one request: that they are allowed to speak to their three surviving children without lawyers present. The judge agrees.

August 28, 2009 - Shafias to face preliminary hearings in February

Lawyer Peter Kemp, representing the elder Shafia, informs Jack Chiang, a justice of the peace that the entire month of February has been set aside for a preliminary inquiry in the case. Such inquiries are used to determine if the Crown has enough evidence to proceed to a trial. Lawyers representing all three accused also agree to set aside October 9 for a focus hearing, a date ordinarily used to address potential issues concerning evidence before a preliminary inquiry is held.

February 2, 2010 - Prosecutors assemble evidence for Shafia hearing

Prosecutors attempt to show they have enough evidence to put one of the accused, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 40, on trial in the deaths of her three daughters and her husband’s first wife.

February 10, 2010 – Wife to stand in Kingston slayings

Tooba Mohammad Yahya is committed to stand trial, likely in 2011, on four charges of first-degree murder as well as four counts of conspiracy in connection with the deaths of four female family members found in a submerged car last June 30 in the Rideau Canal.

Mohammad’s lawyer, David Crowe, acknowledges that enough evidence has been presented at a preliminary inquiry for the 40-year-old woman to go to a full trial, according to a report in the Kingston Whig-Standard.

October 13, 2011 – Jury selected for murder trial

After three days, twelve jurors and two alternates are selected for the jury for the murder trial of a Montreal couple and their adult son accused of killing members of their own family. The jury of six men and six women is chosen in a Kingston courtroom to hear the case, expected to run eight to 10 weeks.

October 20, 2011 – Trial begins

The trial for three members of the Shafia family gets underway at the courthouse in Kingston, Ontario. Prosecutors will call up to 58 witnesses, including 21 police officers. Four Montreal police officers are on the prospective witness list.

October 20, 2011 - Defendant's sobs wrack courtroom

Tooba Mohammad Yahya fills the courtroom with her cries for minutes at a time as lawyers review evidence in the killings of her daughters. A publication ban prevents the media from reporting on the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.

October 20, 2011 – Prosecutor outlines Crown case in 'honour killing' trial

Prosecutor Laurie Lacelle tells jurors that police mounted an elaborate, covert investigation that included the wiretapping of a Shafia vehicle. She says Shafia was recorded speaking to Tooba and Hamed, after the deaths but before they were arrested.

Lacelle also says the court will hear evidence about a practice in some cultures in which family honour can be tarnished by sexual misconduct or disobedience of women. In some cases, families believe they can restore their honour by killing the women who have transgressed.

October 21, 2011 – Secret tapes revealed

In the days after Mohammad Shafia’s three daughters died, he spoke privately to family members about how they had dishonoured him by consorting with boys; jurors at his murder trial were told.

“God’s curse on them … May the devil shit on their graves,” says Shafia, in a conversation with his second wife, Tooba, and son, Hamed. The conversation was secretly recorded by police.

Prosecutor Laurie Lacelle reveals the excerpt from a wiretap during a 1½-hour opening address to the six-man, six-woman jury.

October 21, 2011 - Shafias' lawyer grills police officer over car's route to canal

Defence lawyers get their chance to begin cross-examining the trial’s first witness, Kingston police Constable Julia Moore, who photographed and studied the isolated area around the Rideau Canal.

October 25, 2011 - Police diver tells Shafia murder trial he was ‘perplexed’ by sunken car

The veteran police diver who recovered the bodies from a sunken car was “perplexed” that he could not determine who was driving the vehicle when it plunged into a shallow canal.

“They were all piled on top of each other almost; it was very strange,” Constable Glenn Newell testifies at the murder trial of three Montrealers accused of slaying four family members in an alleged honour killing.

“I really couldn’t determine which person would have been the driver.”

Newell says the driver’s side window was down fully, yet it did not appear anyone had tried to escape through the sizable opening. He says that, at recovery scenes, he sometimes finds the body of a driver partly out through an open window with his or her feet stuck in the steering wheel or their body entangled in the seatbelt. According to reports, none of the victims were wearing seatbelts when Newell found them, and there were only a few objects inside.

October 26, 2011 – Court shown video of submerged bodies

A video of the submerged bodies is shown in court. It is the jury’s first look at the victims as they were found more than two years ago in a shallow canal.

Most of the 14-minute video shows technical aspects of the discovery, the position of the car underwater and various dents and scrapes. But there are grim moments, too.

The camera shows a thick matte of hair, the head of a victim wedged against the door pillar at the side of the car. As the camera moves along the driver’s side of the car and peers in through the open driver’s side window, stark white feet are visible. Later, the camera pans along the outside of the vehicle beside the rear passenger window, which is obscured by a blanket, a purse and a yellow plastic bag. As the camera moves around, a partially clenched hand, poking through the debris, comes into focus.

October 27, 2011 - Jury in Rideau Canal murder trial visit alleged crime scene

Jurors at the Shafia murder trial peer over the stone precipice where a car carrying four members of a Montreal family plunged into a shallow canal.

Under a special provision in law, used rarely in criminal trials, the six men and six women are ferried by bus to Kingston Mills, a tiny hamlet just north of Highway 401. More than a dozen police officers, on foot, in a boat and using a police dog, maintained tight security.

The jurors spend 45 minutes exploring the Parks Canada property where prosecutors allege the Shafia family disposed the victims.

October 27, 2011 - Searches on murder found on laptop

Days before three teenage sisters from Montreal and their father's first wife were found dead in a car submerged in canal locks in eastern Ontario, someone was conducting searches on the family computer for tips on murder.

A Kingston police officer testified they found searches for "documentaries on murders" and "where to commit a murder" on a laptop he used.

October 28, 2011 - Family accused of killing four in canal inconsistent in statements to police

An Ontario court hears that when three people accused of killing four family members first went to a police station, they reported just two people missing.

Barbara Webb, who works at the front desk at the police station in Kingston, tells the court that the three accused came to the station that day and Hamed told her his two sisters were missing and they were in a Nissan.

October 29, 2011- 'I don't know what has happened,' father claimed

Three hours after police told Mohammad Shafia that his missing daughters were likely dead in a submerged car, he gave an officer a calm, hourlong account of the family's actions in the previous 24 hours.

"I don't know what has happened," the Montreal businessman said through an interpreter, in an interview with a detective that was videotaped at the Kingston Police station on the afternoon of June 30, 2009. "We woke up in the morning, didn't see the car, didn't see the kids, don't know."

November 1, 2011 - Officer suspected accused in Rideau Canal murder trial knew more, court hears

An Ontario jury hears that the first police officer to interview a Montreal family accused of killing four relatives almost immediately suspected they knew more than they were telling him.

The court is shown videos of police interviews with the family the day the bodies were found, and the detective is seen suggesting, especially to Hamed, that he may have witnessed something and isn't being truthful.

November 2, 2011 - Mother accused in Rideau Canal murder trial weeps before police interrogation, court hears

Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, weeps for minutes on end before the interrogating officer comes in the room, as she looks at pictures of her dead children, and kisses the photos. The officer who conducted the interview, brought in from the RCMP because he speaks Farsi, confronts Yahya about inconsistencies in her story and those of her husband and son.

November 3, 2011 - Family murder trial delayed after one accused becomes ill

The judge tells the jury the trial has been adjourned because of a medical emergency. It's unclear which accused is ill or when the trial will resume.

November 4, 2011- Shafia family murder trial could resume Tuesday

Mohammad Shafia is taken to a hospital Wednesday evening in what was described by the trial judge as a “serious medical emergency.” Shafia was discharged from hospital Friday afternoon, allowing his trial to resume as soon as Tuesday.

"They did what they were going to do at the hospital and they’re going to discharge him this afternoon,” defence lawyer Peter Kemp said Friday morning. “I’ve talked to the Crown and we’re going to try and get the jury back in and try and get this thing rolling on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.”

November 8, 2011 - Rideau Canal murder trial murder trial resumes with interrogation video of mother

The trial resumes with the continuation of the video of the interrogation of Yahya, Minutes after the video started, Shafia buried his face in his hands and appeared to cry.

November 9, 2011 - Man accused of killing 3 daughters told police his kids were liars, jury hears

The jury watches the video of the police interrogation of Mohammad Shafia, the day after he, his wife and his son were arrested in July 2009.

He tells the interrogator his life has been ruined by the deaths of his children and Rona Amir Mohammad, whom he calls his cousin, and that his kids were pure and sinless.

But he also says his children told authorities he was beating them, and that they were all liars.

November 14, 2011 - Shafia father accused of killing daughters caught on wiretap talking about honour

The day before a Mohammad Shafia was charged with killing his three daughters and one of his two wives, he was caught on a wiretap saying that even if he is hoisted onto the gallows, nothing is more important than his honour.

November 15, 2011 - Man accused of killing sisters told police his mother not involved with deaths

Hamed Mohammad Shafia told a police interrogator his mother had nothing to do with the deaths.

The jury is watching the video of Hamed's interrogation and the police officer grills him about inconsistencies in his earlier statements.

At one point Hamed answers "no" when Det. Steve Koopman asks if he meant to get involved, but later Hamed goes back to the original story of an accident.

He does say his mom "doesn't have anything to do with it," and that night she was feeling unwell, had taken some pills and wasn't conscious.

November 18, 2011 - Brother accused of killing sisters saw them plunge into canal in car

A private investigator testifies that the a young man accused of killing four women told him he saw them plunge into a canal in a car, but didn't call for help.

November 21, 2011 - Shafia murder trial hears about girl's fear of brother

A teenage Montreal girl who was allegedly murdered, along with two sisters and her stepmother, by her brother and parents, warned a suitor at school that her brother could not know about their friendship.

“Let me explain the rules of my friendship. First, be aware of my bro, then if (you) sometimes wanna talk, come in the library, and if my brother is around, act like complete strangers,” Zainab Shafia wrote in an email sent Feb. 16, 2008, to the young man.

Two days earlier, he had sent her a card on Valentine’s Day, expressing romantic interest.

November 22, 2011 - Home life was improving for woman allegedly killed by family, court hears

Court hears that in the days before three sisters were allegedly killed by their family, one of the girls said life in the home was improving.

A man who dated and briefly married Zainab Shafia, 19, is telling court that she often complained about her treatment at home and her lack of freedoms.

But in the days before her June 2009 death, he says she told him her dad let her get a part-time job at Harvey's and go back to school.

November 23, 2011 - One of three sisters allegedly killed by family tried to kill herself, jury told

Court hears that one of three teenage sisters allegedly killed by their family told school officials she was facing physical, emotional and verbal abuse at home, and that she had taken pills to try to kill herself.

An assistant school principal testified in court that Sahar Shafia, 17, told her she was being pressured to wear a hijab, that her brother had assaulted her, and that there was an order within the family not to talk to her.

Court is hearing that Sahar told Josee Fortin she tried to kill herself because she "had enough" and "wanted to die," and that after this suicide attempt, she didn't receive any assistance from her family.

November 24, 2011 - Shafia girl, 13, wanted to run away, court told

Court hears that Geeti Shafia repeatedly asked teachers and child protection authorities to remove her from the family home, where she and her sisters complained of verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

One of Sahar and Geeti's teachers is testifying today that Sahar came to her and asked, if she moved out of the house and into an apartment, would she be able to take Geeti with her.

Fathia Boualia testified today that after Geeti found out what she had told Sahar, the 13-year-old verbally lashed out at the teacher and became "very angry."

"She was speaking out she said, 'You know, that lady is not nice,"' Boualia testified in French through an interpreter. "'She said to Sahar not to take me along with her,' and that made her furious. She was not happy."

November 25, 2011 - Shafia family stopped at another body of water during deadly trip: court

Court hears that a Montreal family who took a trip to Ontario that ended in four of them being found dead in a canal may have first stopped at another body of water.A police officer who analyzed cellphone calls testified today that the family travelled several hundred kilometres past Montreal to Grand-Remous, Que., then 165 kilometres south to Ottawa, instead of going straight there.

November 28, 2011 - Drowned Shafia sisters, aunt showed no signs of drug or alcohol poisoning

Three sisters and a relative from Montreal found in a car underwater in Kingston, Ont., showed no signs of drugs or alcohol. A forensic pathologist says extensive toxicology tests turned up nothing untoward. Dr. Christopher Milroy does tell Ontario Superior Court that he believes the four females drowned. However, he cannot say if that occurred where they were found, or if they were unconscious before the drowning.

November 29, 2011 - Sister of drowned woman wants justice; didn't believe 'honour killing' threat

The sister of a Montreal woman drowned with three teen girls says all she wants is justice. Diba Abdaili Masoomi insisted in court today that she told the truth about phone calls she had with her older sister.

November 30, 2011 - Teen convinced parents would kill her for dating, drowning trial hears

A Montreal teenager was convinced her Muslim parents would kill her if they found out she was dating, her drowning trial heard Wednesday.

Still, Sahar Shafia, 17, took the risk because she felt so strongly about her boyfriend, Ricardo Ruano, his aunt Erma Diaz Medina testified.

"She told me she would be a dead woman if her parents learned she was going out with Ricardo," Medina told court.

"If her parents learned about it, they would kill her."

December 5, 2011 - Honour killings about men controlling women's bodies, expert tells Shafia trial

So-called honour killings stem from a loss of male control over women's bodies, and bloodshed is seen as a way to purify dishonour, an expert testified Monday as the Crown wrapped up its case against a family accused of four such killings.


December 8, 2011 -Dad accused of murdering three daughters says they were cruel to him

Accused Mohammad Shafia testifies that his family was very liberal, and he let his children wear and do what they wanted.

Shafia is taking the stand in his own defence today, and says after the deaths he found a picture of Sahar wearing a short skirt and hugging a boy, and that made him angry.

"My children did a lot of cruelty toward me," Shafia said through an interpreter.

He wept on the stand twice, once as he talked about finding pictures of his daughters, and once as he talked about how he forgave Zainab for marrying a Pakistani boy.

"I gave her $100 and I kiss her face," he said.

December 9, 2011 - Mohammad Shafia, accused of killing 3 daughters, calls honour killings 'heinous'

Mohammad Shafia takes the stand in his own defence at his murder trial for a second day. The man accused of killing his three daughters over family honour says it's impossible that anyone would do "such a terrible and heinous thing."

December 12, 2011 - Son of Montreal couple charged with killing daughters takes stand at trial

A son of a Montreal couple accused of killing their three daughters is testifying at their murder trial today - the first time he has seen his parents in more than three years.

Tooba Yahya, 42, and her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, are charged alongside their eldest son, Hamed, 20, with four counts of first-degree murder.

They're accused of killing Shafia sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Shafia's other wife in a polygamous marriage.

Another son of the Shafias and brother to the girls is on the stand today in court, but cannot be named due to a publication ban.

The jury has watched a video of an interview the brother did with police hours before his parents and brother were arrested in July 2009.

He conceded to the officer that his father had hit them a few times, but he was adamant that his family couldn't have possibly committed murder.

December 13, 2011 - Shafia son told to make up story to protect parents, brother: Crown

The Crown at a family murder trial is suggesting that the accused told one of their surviving children to make up a story that could help absolve them of guilt.

But the Crown attorney at the Shafia family trial today suggested to a surviving son that he mixed up the family story and is now caught in contradictions on the stand.

Another son of the Shafias and brother to the girls is on the stand today under cross-examination, but cannot be named due to a publication ban.

December 14, 2011 -Shafia son has changed his story to protect family: Crown

The Crown at a family murder trial is suggesting that a surviving son's memory is selectively improving. The Crown attorney at the Shafia family trial today suggested to the son, who can't be named, that he has made some changes to the story he told police, and that all of his changes help his family in some way.

January 10, 2012 - Video clip creates courtroom drama at Shafia family murder trial

A courtroom in eastern Ontario was witness to dramatic legal theatre Tuesday, as a woman accused in a so-called quadruple honour killing was confronted with a video appearing to directly contradict her sworn testimony.

January 11, 2012- Man accused of killing daughters was angry about finding condoms, wife testifies

A woman accused of killing her three daughters and her husband's other wife says her husband was very angry about finding condoms in their 17-year-old daughter's room.

January 12, 2012 - 'It was all lies': Shafia mother testifies she lied to police after her arrest

A woman accused of killing her three daughters and her husband's other wife admitted in court today that she lied to police.

Tooba Yahya, 42, testified that she lied in her post-arrest interrogation, saying she was under pressure and "it was all lies."

Yahya told that officer that she was at the scene the night the four people died and heard the car splash into the water, but she said today that she made it up because she was under pressure.

She admitted under cross-examination that she is under pressure on the stand today, but says she's not lying now.

January 16, 2012- Shafia mother accuses Crown attorney of making up stories at murder trial

Tooba Yahya turns the tables on the prosecutor in her case today. Yahya, 42, spent part of her sixth day on the stand at the Shafia family murder trial accusing the Crown attorney of making up stories.

January 17, 2012 - Honour important to Shafia, brother testifies at family murder

Honour is very important to a man accused of killing half of his family, allegedly in a so-called honour killing, but Mohammad Shafia is no murderer, his half-brother said Tuesday.

Dr. Mohammad Anwar Yaqubi, in one of several outbursts in which he vehemently asserted his sibling is innocent, suggested it's the police and prosecutors who should be in prison instead of Shafia and his co-accused wife and son. Wiretaps that the Crown says show Shafia's lingering anger over his daughters' dating habits, in which he calls them "whores," actually exonerate Shafia because he never explicitly says he committed murder, Yaqubi said.

January 18, 2012 - Closing arguments in Shafia family murder trial to begin Monday

All of the evidence has now been heard and, next week, the jury will start sifting through a mountain of documents and parsing complex testimony to determine their fate.

The final witness, a linguistic and Afghani cultural expert, testified Wednesday about the use of expletives in the Dari language and various roles in families from Afghanistan.

January 24, 2012 - Wiretaps prove Shafia father accused of murder is innocent: lawyer says

The lawyer for a man accused of killing his three daughters and one of two wives is directing the jury to statements on wiretaps he says point toward his client's innocence.

Closing arguments started today in the trial of three members of the Montreal-based Shafia family, who are accused of killing four female relatives over family honour.

January 25, 2012 -Shafia son's lawyer calls Crown's theory at murder trial 'preposterous'

The lawyer for a young man accused of murdering his three sisters and one of his
father's two wives says the Crown's theory that it was a so-called honour
killing is "preposterous.

January 26, 2012 - Closing arguments in the Shafia family murder trial have resumed after a bomb threat forced an evacuation at the courthouse this morning.

Crown attorney Laurie Lacelle tells the jury that each of the three accused was responsible for planning and carrying out four murders, executed to get rid of family members causing them dishonour.

January 27, 2012 - The judge at the Shafia family murder trial says the jury can find the accused guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.

After listening to the judge's final instructions for more than five hours, the jury retires for the night. Full day deliberations are set to resume the next day at 10 a.m. ET.

January 28, 2012 - Jury starts full day deliberations

Starting fresh, the jury must look at the mountain of evidence from 58 witnesses and 165 exhibits. During the trial that last almost three months, what did the Crown and defence argue?

January 29, 2012 - Jury reaches verdict

A jury took 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder with no chance of parole for 25 years.

January 31, 2012 - Hamed Shafia files notice to appeal 1st-degree murder convictions

The lawyer for Hamed Shafia says his client has filed notice to appeal his first-degree murder conviction in the deaths of four family members.

Patrick McCann says Hamed Shafia, 21, has taken the first step by filing an inmate's notice to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

February 2, 2012: Mohammad Shafia joins his son in filing an intention to appeal.

February 8, 2012:Tooba Yahya files an inmate notice of appeal, which is the first step toward filing a full appeal at a later date.



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