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Shafia Honour Killing Trial: Tooba Yahya Spars With Crown Prosecutor

01/16/2012 11:55 EST | Updated 01/18/2012 12:54 EST
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KINGSTON, Ont. - A mom charged with killing her three daughters turned the tables on the prosecutor in her case Monday, accusing him of having an overactive imagination and likening his theory of what happened to a child's bedtime story.

Tooba Yahya, 42, was on the stand for a sixth day at the Shafia family murder trial, where she, her husband and their son are accused of killing the three girls and the first wife in their polygamous marriage, allegedly over family honour.

Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis has spent much of his lengthy cross-examination suggesting Yahya is not being truthful about key points in her testimony about what led up to those four people being found dead in a car at the bottom of a canal in Kingston.

Yahya, in turn, suggested Monday that it was Laarhuis who was making up a false story and "showing it off in front of everybody here."

"No, dear sir, this is what were made in your brain," Yahya said in Dari, her first language, through an interpreter. She said his "stories" were like what a mother tells her child to put them to sleep.

"But this is a court date," Yahya said. "People want to know the truth, not to make up stories from your mind."

Yahya, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their son Hamed, 21, are all on trial and have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. They're accused of killing Shafia sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Shafia's first wife in a polygamous marriage.

Their bodies were found June 30, 2009, in a car at the bottom of the locks in Kingston, where the Montreal family had stopped for the night on their way back from a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont.

Court was interrupted Monday afternoon just as the jury was starting to leave for its afternoon break, when a young woman called out to the accused, went up to the glass of the prisoners' box and kissed the glass. Shafia kissed her back through the glass.

Two of Shafia's half siblings — his mother remarried and had more children after his father died — testified Monday afternoon. Court heard they grew up in a wealthy, liberal neighbourhood of Kabul, that he was a big supporter of education for women, driving his sisters to university every day, and that the family was not religious. Neither sibling swore on the Koran when being sworn in, choosing to affirm instead.

Farida Nayebkheil testified she was surprised to learn Shafia called his daughters whores after they died, and Crown attorney Laurie Lacelle suggested in cross-examination that Nayebkheil doesn't know her half brother very well.

Nayebkheil, who was born in Kabul and has also lived in Turkey and Moscow, has spent the past 17 years in Denmark and did not have regular contact with her brother, court heard. She didn't learn until two weeks after the incident that her nieces had died, she said.

Dr. Mohammad Anwar Yaqubi, Shafia's half brother and a doctor now living in the Netherlands, also testified that Yahya and Shafia's first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, were like sisters. Shafia married Yahya because Mohammad couldn't have children.

He also mentioned that when Hamed was a toddler, Rona fell carrying him and they were both injured. Yaqubi offhandedly remarked that when it happened some relatives thought Yahya had pushed her. Yaqubi will be cross-examined Tuesday.

Both siblings testified, as did Yahya, that they had never heard of the concept of honour killings until this case.

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