World, Americas

Canada to pursue Muslim family murder suspect with terrorist charges

4 in Muslim family killed in deliberate hit and run hate crime on June 6

Barry Ellsworth   | 14.06.2021
Canada to pursue Muslim family murder suspect with terrorist charges Mourners and supporters gather for a public funeral for members of the Afzaal family at the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario on June 12, 2021 in London, Canada. ( John Densky - Anadolu Agency )

TRENTON, Canada

Terrorist charges were laid against the man suspected of killing the Afzaal family in the city of London, Ontario province, Canadian government prosecutors announced in court Monday.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, already faces four charges of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously called it a "terrorist attack" after the suspect drove a half-ton truck into a family of five who were out for a stroll on the evening of June 6.

The deceased have been identified as 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal.

Fayez Afzaal, 9, is the lone survivor of the attack and he was hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

It is Veltman's second court appearance as he was in court Thursday for a few minutes via video. The case was put over so the suspect could get legal representation but in court Monday it was said he still did not have a lawyer, CTV News reported. Once again the accused appeared via video.

Murder charges are more serious than those of terrorism.

But Yusuf Faqari, Quebec director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told Global News that it is still important to label the crime a terrorist act because that may deter others.

"It needs to be called a terrorist attack so it prevents other tragedies," he said.

In court Monday, Sarah Shaikh of the prosecution service told Veltman of the new charge.

"Mr. Veltman, you are now charged with four counts of first-degree murder. In addition to the allegation that these murders were planned and deliberate, the further allegation is that they also constitute terrorism," Shaikh said.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines terrorism as an act done "in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the public or the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada."

A publication ban has been placed on proceedings.

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