Three Canadians jailed for life for "honor killings"

Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:38am EST
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(Reuters) - Three members of an Afghan Canadian family were found guilty of the "honor killing" of three siblings and a fourth relative on Sunday after a high-profile trial that has fascinated Canadians.

A jury in Kingston, Ontario, found the three -- husband and wife Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their eldest son Hamed Mohammad Shafia -- guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.

Their victims were three of Hamed's sisters and the woman introduced to outsiders as a cousin, who turned out to be Mohammad Shafia's first wife in a polygamous marriage.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime," Canadian media quoted Judge Robert Maranger as saying after the verdict.

"The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor."

Over a three-month trial, the court heard repeated evidence that the three teenaged sisters had clashed with their conservative father on many issues.

One had a boyfriend, and had briefly sought shelter in a woman's refuge, while another was sent home from school for wearing clothes that were too revealing.

The three sisters were found drowned in a canal lock, along with the fourth family member.

The prosecution said their own parents and their brother were responsible, and had acted because the teenagers had betrayed their religion and dishonored the family.

The three denied the charge, and defence lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years. Canada has no death penalty.

(Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

<p>Mohammad Shafia (bottom) and his son Hamed Shafia (L) leave the Frontenac County Courthouse in Kingston, Ontario January 29, 2012. The two, as well as Shafia's wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, were found guilty of first-degree murder on Sunday. They were charged with killing Mohammad Shafia's three daughters Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, as well as Mohammad's first wife, Rona Amir Mohammed. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg</p>