(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