Hamed Shafia, convicted of family murders, was 17, not 18, lawyer argues

TORONTO -- The lawyer for a man who, along with his parents, was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members, is arguing his client was a youth at the time of the offences and deserves a new trial.

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Hamed Shafia's lawyer is asking Ontario's top court to admit fresh evidence which he says proves the man was in fact 17 and not 18 and a half when his relatives were found dead, and should not have been tried by an adult court.

Shafia and his parents were convicted in January 2012 of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and his father's first wife in a polygamous marriage, 52-year-old Rona Amir Mohammad.

The victims' bodies were found on June 30, 2009, in a car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont.

The Crown at the trial asserted the murders were committed after the girls "shamed" the family by dating and acting out, and Amir Mohammad was simply disposed of.

Hamed Shafia's lawyer Scott Hutchison says three documents from Afghanistan -- where his client was born -- have been discovered since the trial which throws Shafia's actual age into doubt.

Those documents are a "tazkira" or Afghan identity document, a certificate of live birth, and a document which confirms the tazkira.

He is asking the court to also be mindful of a "casualness" associated with birth dates in Afghan and Middle Eastern communities.

"We have evidence that is reasonably capable of belief," he told a panel of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal. "In my submission you must give effect to the fresh evidence, set aside the conviction and order a new trial."

Hutchinson is making his arguments ahead of an appeal being made by Shafia and his parents which asks for a new trial.



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