Crown prosecutors in a courtroom in Windsor, Ont., presented evidence they will present to the jury in the trial of Nathaniel Veltman, the 22-year-old accused of killing a Muslim family in London in June 2021.
“Three generations of a family went for a walk: a grandmother, a father, a mother and two children. They went to a park near their house and this would be their last walk together,” Sarah Shaikh said Monday as part of the event. Crown’s opening statements.
Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her parents Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and family matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. A nine-year-old boy survived.
Veltman was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, as well as associated terrorism charges after the June 6, 2021, vehicle attack on the Afzaal family. He pleaded not guilty.
“Why did he do this? You’ll hear it in his own words,” Shaikh said in Ontario Superior Court, referring to the accused. “He made two statements to detectives after turning himself in and you will hear both statements. You will hear him say he did it on purpose…he said he did it because they were Muslims.”
On the day of the incident, the two women in the family were wearing traditional Pakistani clothes, he added.
The reasons for the change of venue of the trial to Windsor are under a publication ban. It began last week with jury selection and is expected to last three months.
Several friends of the Afzaals, as well as family members, were in the Windsor courtroom to hear opening statements. The trial is expected to last about eight weeks, shorter than originally planned because defense and Crown lawyers were able to reach an agreement on some facts that will not have to be discussed.
‘Let go of prejudices’
Shaikh, one of four prosecutors in the case, told the jury that the defendant went to work on June 6, 2021, in Strathroy, Ont.
He later returned to his bachelor pad in central London and “left before 8pm with a specific purpose in mind: to find Muslims to kill”.
Jurors also heard that the defendant told police he had been inspired by others with similar political views, that he wanted to inspire others, and police found two versions of a document, titled “A White Awakening,” On your computer.
Before hearing from the Crown, Judge Renée Pomerance reminded jurors that their primary job is to analyze all the facts logically and with common sense.
“All jurors must be impartial. We all have beliefs and assumptions that inform our perception of our world and we may be aware of some of these biases and ignore others,” Pomerance said.
“We look at others through the lens of our experiences, no matter how impartial we may think we are. All humans experience unconscious bias, but we can overcome it. It is not a character flaw, it is the function of being human. But stereotypes They should have no place in our justice system.
“In this case, [the accused] He is charged with several counts of first-degree murder. The Crown alleges he set out to murder a family because of his Muslim beliefs. These are just accusations. The Crown must prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The trial has a lunch break. The first witness is expected to testify in the early afternoon.