A Montreal father, mother and their son appeared in a Kingston, Ontario court on Tuesday as jurors continued to hear testimony in the alleged “honor killing” trial of the family’s three daughters and a fourth woman.
Jurors watched a police interrogation video showing 20-year-old, Hamed Shafia, denying involvement in the deaths of the women who were found dead in the Rideau Canal in 2009, according to the CBC.
During questioning, he was seen refusing to answer some questions and attempting to turn the interrogation on his interviewer, Sgt. Mike Boyles.
“OK, now is your turn to answer my question,” Hamed said.
Hamed, his father Mohammad Shafia, 58, and his mother Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, have been each charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the Shafia sisters - Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, Mohammed’s first wife.
The four victims were found dead on June 30, 2009, after their vehicle, a Nissan Sentra, was submerged in a water canal.
Prosecutors say the three accused family members took two vehicles to the canal and used an SUV to push the smaller vehicle over a ledge and into the water, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Investigators then planted listening devices in the family’s van and home as well as in police vehicles on the day of their arrest three weeks after the murders, the CBC reported.
The wiretaps recorded the accused allegedly discussing concerns about sticking with the same story, the CBC reported.
The family was originally from Afghanistan and came to Canada in 2007 from Dubai, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Prosecutors claim the victims died in an “honor killing,” an ancient practice where girls and women can be murdered for perceived shame to the family.
The three accused family members have pleaded not guilty.
The jury will hear more evidence on Thursday, the CBC reported.
Honor killing on the rise
Critics have warned that honor killing is on the rise in the West.
In February 2011, a U.S. jury convicted an Iraqi immigrant of second-degree murder for running over and killing his daughter in a case prosecutors called an “honor killing.”
Faleh Hassan al-Maleki, 50, was also convicted of aggravated assault for injuries suffered by the mother of his daughter’s boyfriend during the October 2009 incident in a suburban Phoenix parking lot, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that he mowed down 20-year-old, Noor al-Maleki, with his Jeep Cherokee because she had brought the family dishonor by becoming too Westernized. He wanted Noor to act like a traditional Iraqi woman, but she refused an arranged marriage, went to college and had a boyfriend.
In May 2011, a case emerged against Rahim al-Fetlawi, 45, for honor killing his 20-year-old stepdaughter, Jessica Mokdad.
According to the police, her stepfather believed she was “not adhering to Muslim customs” and because her biological father was “letting her be a little more Americanized than what (the defendant) wanted.”
In July 2010, ‘Harry Potter’ actress’s Afshan Azad, father and brother were charged with attempting to kill her in their Manchester home, according to the BBC.
According to a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service, the attempted attack against the actress was motivated because “her family, who are Muslim, did not approve of her relationship with a Hindu man.”
At least a dozen honor killings cases, mainly within Asian and Middle East families, occurred in the United Kingdom between 2004 and 2005, according to Nazir Afzal, Director of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service.
While Muslim women mainly suffer from the honor killing malice, Diana Nammi of the UK’s Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization said that “about two-thirds are Muslim [but] they can also be Hindu and Sikh.”
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that perhaps as many as 5,000 women and girls a year are killed by members of their own families.