Accused family murderers appear in court
Published Friday, August 14, 2009 2:40PM EDT
Three members of the Shafia family, accused of murdering their own kin, have once again appeared in a Kingston, Ontario courtroom via videoconference.
Mohammed Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, and their 18-year-old son Hamed are facing four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of 19-year-old Zainab, 17-year-old Sahar, 13-year-old Geeti and 52-year-old Rona Amir Mohammed.
Their bodies were found June 30 in a Nissan Sentra that was submerged in the Rideau Canal.
This week, police turned over all the evidence accumulated so far from their investigation to crown prosecutors. The crown will analyze the evidence, then hand copies of it to the Shafia family's defence lawyers.
So far defence lawyers say they have received about ten percent of the documented case against their clients, including 29 hour-long videotaped statements.
However police have yet to receive the detailed reports from forensic investigators, or the autopsy reports on the four deceased.
Emotions under control
Lawyers for the family say things are moving slowly, in part because of the language difficulties faced by their clients.
Mohammed was the first of the three accused to make an appearance and ask for a postponement.
Reporters in the courtroom said that he was in control of his emotions, and that he and Yahya appeared much calmer than in their prior appearances.
Until last week, the Shafias were not allowed to contact their other children, who are in the custody of Child Services in Montreal.
Hamed, who is being kept in isolation at the Quinte Detention Centre after being attacked in jail, was gnawing his lips throughout the hearing.
The three accused are not allowed to have any contact with each other while they are awaiting trial.
Mohammed is being held at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, while Yahya and Hamed are at the Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee, Ont.
So far none of the three accused have entered a plea, nor have they been allowed to ask for bail during this pre-trial phase of the case.
Their next appearance is in two weeks, on August 28 at 1 p.m., again via videoconference.