Hamed Shafia who, together with his polygamist father and mother, was convicted of murdering his three sisters and his father’s first wife, is taking his case to the Supreme Court to argue that he should not have been tried as an adult but rather as a young offender because at the time of the murder he was 17 years old.
Conviction for first-degree murder for an adult carries a mandatory life sentence without parole for 25 years while young offenders are eligible for parole after 10 years.
Hamad, his father Mohammad and Mohammad’s second wife Tooba Yahya are serving a life sentence for the murders of Shafia’s first wife Rona Amir and his daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti.
Prior to moving to Canada in 2007, the Afghan-born Shafia family lived in the United Arab Emirates for over a decade.
On June 30, 2009, Rona, Zainab Sahar and Geeti were found dead inside a car submerged underwater in the Rideau Canal. The murders shocked the country and made international headlines.
Mohammad, Tooba and Hamed were arrested on July 23, 2009 and charged with 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 and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
During the trial, Fahima Vorgetts, a U.S.-based volunteer with a human rights organization called Women for Afghan Women, testified about her phone conversations with Rona, who contacted Vorgetts several times to describe the about the horrific abuse, humiliation and violence she sustained at the hands of Mohammad, who pulled her hair, beat her up and threatened to kill her if she left him.
Shafia, it was heard during the trial, was livid because he believed his daughters, who with Rona’s support wanted to lead a western (and not an Islamic fundamentalist) lifestyle, had violated “cultural” rules requiring sexual modesty and disobeyed him, particularly the elder daughters who had a boyfriend.
Shafia, who prior to the murders openly acknowledged that he wanted to kill Zainab, came up with a plan to murder his first wife and three daughters in order to restore his “honour”, and enlisted his second wife and son in carrying out the plan.
The Shafia murders were partly responsible for triggering the introduction by the former Conservative Government of Bill S-7, also known as “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, which received Royal Ascent in June, 2015.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]