• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Canadian white nationalist given life sentence for Muslim family’s murder

Friends of the slain family show solidarity

Eastern EyeBy: Eastern Eye

A SELF-CONFESSED Canadian white nationalist who deliberately ran over and killed four members of a Muslim family with his pickup truck in 2021 was given a life sentence last Thursday (22) with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Nathaniel Veltman, 23, had been found guilty of first-degree murder last November for an attack that shocked Canada. He showed little reaction to the decision, the London Free Press newspaper reported.

The judge in the case said Veltman’s attack represented an act of terrorism, the first time that the term has been used to describe white nationalist violence.

Veltman ran over five members of the Afzaal family, originally from Pakistan, in the Ontario town of London, when they were out for an evening walk in June 2021.

The victims included Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife, Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah, and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, Talat.

“We don’t know if it’s closure, or justice. What we do know is that the verdict will not bring back what was stolen,” said Tabinda Bukhari, Salman’s mother.

“This trial wasn’t just about one act. It was a stark reminder of the fault lines that run deep within our society,” she told reporters outside the court.

It was the worst assault against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Crown attorney Sarah Shaikh, who helped prosecute the case, said Veltman had committed a “uniquely abhorrent” crime aimed at Muslims as a whole.

“Hatred and ideologicallydriven violence towards an entire community can never be tolerated in a free and democratic society,” she said.

The dead couple’s nineyear-old son suffered serious injuries. Shortly after the assault, Veltman said: “I did it. I killed those people.”

Veltman pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder. His defence, citing what it called Veltman’s mental challenges, said the actions amounted to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

But justice Renee Pomerance, who presided over the case, disagreed. “I find the offender’s actions constitute terrorist activity,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. cited her as saying.

Prosecutors noted Veltman had written a manifesto entitled “A White Awakening”, in which he outlined hatred of Islam and opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism. Defence lawyer Christopher Hicks said the terrorism determination had been inevitable.

 

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