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Canada finds man guilty of running over Muslim family

November 16, 2023

The prosecution had argued that the 22-year-old defendant's attack on a Muslim family was an act of terrorism. Four members of the family were killed in the 2021 attack, with a single surviving child orphaned.

Signs and ribbons are seen at the London Muslim Mosque in memory of a Muslim family that was killed in what police call a hate-motivated attack in London, Ontario, Canada June 11, 2021.
The man ran over the Muslim family with his truck in 2021, killing four membersImage: Carlos Osorio/REUTERS

A Canadian jury found on Thursday a 22-year-old man guilty of murdering four members of a Muslim family in a 2021 attack.

Nathaniel Veltman was convicted of four counts of first degree or premeditated murder, and one count of attempted murder.

He ran over a Muslim family with his pickup truck in June 2021 in Ontario, killing four members of the family and leaving a single surviving child orphaned.

The prosecution had argued that the attack sought to intimidate or terrorize Muslims, motivated by white supremacist ideology.

What do we know about the trial? 

The trial lasted some 10-weeks. The defendant, who had pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, was accused of writing a "terrorist manifesto," in which he espoused white nationalist sentiments and spoke about his hatred for Muslims. 

The prosecution said he "dressed like a soldier" with a "crusader t-shirt" when carrying out the attack.

The defense said the defendant had suffered a mental decline and was in "a state of extreme confusion" after consuming hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms that weekend. Nevertheless, the argument did not meet the requirements for an insanity plea.

The attack killed 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his wife, their 15-year-old daughter and her grandmother.

It was the worst attack targeting Canadian Muslims since a 2017 gun attack on a Quebec City mosque which left six killed.

rmt/wmr (AFP, Reuters)