Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

2nd day of testimony from relatives of the London family

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Relatives of the Afzaal family testified during the hearing sentencing of the London accused on Thursday.

The Canadian Press

Relatives of the Afzaal family, mowed down by a ram truck in June 2021, testify for a second day Friday as part of Nathaniel Veltman's sentencing hearing. The latter was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Thursday, relatives shared their deep pain and the immensity of their loss during the hearing.

A family member killed in the truck attack testified that he picked up clothes from the floor of his great-niece's bedroom a day after the killings and desperately sought comfort in her perfume for the last time.

Hina Islam's comments were among the emotional victim impact statements delivered on the first day of the hearing on Thursday. /p>

Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and their 74-year-old grandmother Talat Afzaal were killed, while the couple's nine-year-old son was seriously injured, but survived.

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Hina Islam, Madiha Salman's aunt, said living in the same neighborhood as her relatives once gave her a deep sense of grounding and security, but she lost that feeling after the attack.

The attack sparked national calls to combat Islamophobia.

The trial of Nathaniel Veltman was the first in which Canada's anti-terrorism laws were put before a jury in a first-degree murder trial.

Judge Renee Pomerance, who oversaw the trial, informed the jury that they could find Veltman guilty of first-degree murder if they were unanimously convinced that the prosecutors had established that he intended to kill the victims, had planned his attack and that it was deliberate.

She also told jurors they could reach that same verdict if they determined the killings were terrorist activity.

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Nathaniel Veltman left the courthouse in a cell van after the sentencing hearing.

The terrorist component is not a separate charge, and juries do not explain how they reach their verdict, so it is unclear what role, if any, the terrorism allegations played in their decision.

Judge Renee Pomerance could make findings on that issue as part of the sentencing process later this month. She will have to examine the facts as part of the proceedings.

Prosecutors had argued the attack was an act of terrorism committed by a self-described white nationalist, while defense attorneys had argued the defendant did not have criminal intent to kill the victims and that the attack was not deliberate and planned.

During the trial, Nathaniel Veltman claimed that x27;he had been influenced by the writings of a gunman who carried out the mass killings of 51 Muslim worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019.

He also said he had considered using his van, which he had purchased a month earlier, to carry out an attack and had searched for information online about what happens when pedestrians are hit by cars at different speeds.

He told the jury he felt an overwhelming urge to hit the Afzaal family after seeing them walking on a sidewalk, adding that #x27;he knew they were Muslims because of the clothes they wore and noticed that the man in the group had a beard.

Jurors also saw a video of Nathaniel Veltman telling a detective that his attack was motivated by white nationalist beliefs. The court also heard he wrote a manifesto in the weeks before the attack, describing himself as a white nationalist and spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about Muslims.

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