Creating new perspectives since 2009

Trial begins in Canada of man who allegedly killed 4 members of Muslim family

September 5, 2023 at 5:37 pm

People gather outside Baitul Aman Masjid to protest against recent violent attack in Scarborough district of Toronto, Canada on May 12, 2023 [Mert Alper Dervis – Anadolu Agency]

The trial of a man accused in a hate-motivated murder of four members of a Muslim family began Tuesday in a Canadian court, Anadolu Agency reports.

Nathaniel Veltman allegedly drove his vehicle on 6 June, 2021, onto the sidewalk and into the Afzaal family, who were out for an evening walk in London, Ontario, west of Toronto.

Killed were Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her mother and father Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and her grandmother Talat Afzaal, 74. A son, nine at the time of the attack, survived but was left an orphan.

The crime sent shockwaves across the country.

“Their lives were taken in a brutal, cowardly, and brazen act of violence,” Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said after the attack. “This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack motivated by hatred in the heart of one in our community.”

READ: MAB calls on Conservatives to tackle endemic Islamaphobia

Veltman is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and terror charges.

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial which is expected to last three months, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The trial was moved to Windsor, Ontario, south-west of London just across the border from Detroit. The reason for the shift of venue is not known due to a publication ban, the CBC reported. But it will be live-streamed to a packed London courtroom.

London Imam, Abd Alfatah Twakkal, said the trial will stir up emotions even though the attack happened more than two years ago.

“I think there’s a lot of angst in the community,” Twakkal told the CBC. “You think you have grieved something that happened over two years ago, and then a trial comes along and it brings back the reliving of the trauma, the pain the anger that we all felt in the immediate aftermath of the incident.”

READ: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar among top purchasers of Canada’s weapons