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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Canadian white nationalist who killed Pakistani-origin family gets life sentence

Nathaniel Veltman, 23, found guilty of first-degree murder last November for attack that shocked Canada
People attend a vigil outside the London Muslim Mosque organized after four members of a Canadian Muslim family were killed in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 2021. Reuters
People attend a vigil outside the London Muslim Mosque organized after four members of a Canadian Muslim family were killed in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 2021. Reuters
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays flowers at a vigil outside the London Muslim Mosque organized after four members of a Canadian Muslim family were killed in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 2021. Reuters
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays flowers at a vigil outside the London Muslim Mosque organized after four members of a Canadian Muslim family were killed in what police describe as a hate-motivated attack in London, Ontario, Canada, June 8, 2021. Reuters

A self-confessed Canadian white nationalist who deliberately ran over and killed four members of a Pakistani-origin Muslim family with his pick-up truck in 2021 was given a life sentence on Thursday 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 were 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 ideologically driven violence towards an entire community can never be tolerated in a free and democratic society,” she said.

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

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Veltman pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder. His defense, 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.

Defense lawyer Christopher Hicks said he felt the terrorism determination had been inevitable, given the circumstances of the case and what he called a long and difficult trial. Asked about a possible appeal, he said “elements of an appeal are present,” adding he would need to consult with Veltman first.

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