Days after the bodies were found the father was recorded saying, "There is nothing more valuable than our honour."
Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their son, Hamed Mohammad Shafia, 20, are each charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
Three teenage Shafia sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Shafia's first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, were found dead inside a submerged black Nissan Sentra discovered June 30, 2009 in the Rideau Canal. The family had stopped in Kingston on their way home from a trip to Niagara Falls.
An expert will be called to testify about honour killings and how in extreme cases, killing can be seen in some cultures as a way to restore honour to a family, the Crown attorney said Thursday at the outset of the trial. Disobedience by a female member of the family can cause shame and taint family honour, she said.
Laurie Lacelle quoted police wiretaps made surreptitiously in the days after the deaths that show the family's concern for their honour.
"Even if they hoist me up onto the gallows, nothing is more dear to me than my honour," Shafia said. "Let's leave our destiny to God, and may God never make me, you or your mother honourless...There is nothing more valuable than our honour."
When police began to suspect the three were involved in the deaths, they told the family they were examining a camera near the scene for clues, in the hopes this would prompt discussion among the Shafias in their car, which the police had bugged. They scoffed and immediately suspected police were bluffing.
"If they had had any proof they would have come for us a long time ago," Shafia said.
Another wiretap recorded Shafia and Yahya talking about their daughters 20 days after they died.
"If we remain alive...we have no tension thinking our daughter is in the arms of this or that boy, this or that man," Shafia said on a wiretap. "God's curse on them for generations. May the devil...on their graves. Is that what a daughter should be? Would a daughter be such a *****?"
"There can be no treachery, no violation more than this," Lacelle quoted Shafia as saying on the wiretaps. "They committed treason from beginning to end. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam...They betrayed everything."
The family, originally from Afghanistan, was in turmoil before the deaths. The eldest daughter, Zainab Shafia, had run away and both of the other two girls had repeatedly told authorities they were afraid and wanted to leave the family home. Shafia and Hamed controlled the home, making the rules and doling out punishment, sometimes violent, Lacelle said.
Zainab had run away from home and her mother convinced her to come home by saying she would let her marry her boyfriend, Lacelle said. But when none of her boyfriend's family showed up to the wedding, Yahya and Hamed Shafia forced Zainab to get it annulled the same day.
Sahar, 17, had a boyfriend and the parents suspected 13-year-old Geeti was also seeing a boy, Lacelle said. Their younger siblings would report to the father and eldest brother when Sahar, 17, was speaking to boys at school. Sahar was suicidal, Lacelle said.
But the troubles within the family weren't exclusively about boys. Zainab and Sahar were resisting their family's urging to wear the hijab, the Crown attorney said. The two sisters loved clothes and dressed fashionably, she said. Geeti had been caught shoplifting, was failing most of her classes and got sent home from school for wearing inappropriate clothing.
Ten days before the girls and Mohammad were found dead, a Google search was conducted on a laptop registered to Shafia and used by his son Hamed, Lacelle said. The words entered were, "where to commit a murder."
Five days before that someone had searched for "facts and documentaries on murders," Lacelle said. Earlier, someone had Googled "can a prisoner have control over their real estate?"
Rona Amir Mohammad was Shafia's first wife, but he married Yahya when it became apparent Mohammad couldn't have children. She helped raise the children and loved them dearly, Lacelle said, but she wrote in a diary that Yahya treated her poorly and Shafia beat her. She wanted to leave, but told family members that she was afraid if she left Shafia would kill her, Lacelle said.
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Are we going to continue to allow this sort of thing to go on in our country or are
we going to adopt a politically correct position? Honour killings must be ended
and punished to the fullest extent of the law.