Paul Schliesmann, QMI Agency
KINGSTON, ONT. - A man who helped convict his niece of killing three of her daughters and her husband’s first wife says he has been ostracized from his family and friends.
“At the beginning, not just in Afghan society, some of the Canadians abandoned me,” said Latif Hyderi, a 65-year-old Montreal man. “We would go to the mosque and no one would talk to me.”
Hyderi appeared at the Kingston Mills murder trial in November to testify that Mohammad Shafia, Shafia’s wife and Hyderi’s niece Tooba Yahya and their son, Hamed.
They were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, for killing daughters Zainab, Sahar, Geeti, and Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad. The bodies of the four women were found in a car submerged at the Rideau Canal locks in Kingston on June 30, 2009. The Crown was told the women were part of an honour killing because of their acceptance of Western ideals and trends.
Hyderi, who speaks neither English nor French and spoke with QMI Agency through his son, Reza, said the women’s deaths were made more tragic because Zainab was engaged to marry his son, Hussain.
Hyderi had to choose between justice and family the day he learned his future daughter-in-law was found dead in the Rideau Canal.
He testified against Shafia, even though his family and other members of the Afghan society in Montreal urged him not to.
“When the killings happened my father knew it was not an accident because Mr. Shafia told my dad he was going to kill Zainab. For my parents it’s everything. He’s very disappointed in the reaction to his testimony, though he knew it was reality,” Reza said.
At the trial, Hyderi said he tried to convince Mohammad to ease up on the restrictions, that they were living in a whole different culture in Canada.
“If Shafia would listen to me those four women would be alive on this earth,” he told the court. “I feel very bad for what they introduced to the community. For me, the children were always clean.”
Hussain, now 29, is refusing interviews. Reza said his brother was devastated by what transpired and is trying to put his life back together.
“It’s hard for me to see Tooba, my niece, in prison. It’s very shameful,” Hyderi said. “I swear I was a friend to the Shafias and I never thought they would face such a time.
“No matter what they think — even if they consider me an enemy — I tell the truth and nothing else.
“My duty was to oppose the crime and stand up for reality. In that, I have God with me and I felt it was right.”
Shafia, Yahya and Hamed are appealing their convictions.
Man who testified in Shafia trial shunned by family | Ontario | News | Toronto Sun