This picture shows (from right to left) Salman Afzaal, his mother Talat Afzaal, and his wife Madiha Salman, who were killed by Canadian man, Nathaniel Veltman in London, Ontario on June 6, 2021. — BBC/Saboor Khan Nathaniel Veltman, a 22-year-old self-confessed Canadian white nationalist who deliberately ran over and killed four members of a Pakistani family in his truck in 2021 was found guilty of first degree murder on Thursday.
According to BBC, the jury, consisting of twelve members, deliberated for less than six hours before issuing a decision that is secret under Canadian law. This was the first time Canada’s anti-terrorism laws have been put to the test in a first-degree murder prosecution.
The Pakistani-Canadian Muslim family that was killed by Veltman on June 6, 2021, included 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and his mother, 74-year-old Talat Afzaal.
The couple’s nine-year-old kid, though, managed to survive despite suffering severe injuries.
A guilty verdict was delivered in Windsor’s Superior Courthouse, causing emotional reactions from spectators, including London’s Muslim community and the affected family’s friends.
The relatives expressed solace and emphasised the need for further action to address all forms of hatred in Canada.
“This wasn’t just a crime against the Muslim community, but rather, an attack against the safety and security of all Canadians,” said Tabinda Bukhari on behalf of the family.
The National Council of Muslims (NCCM) said they were “relieved that justice has been served”.
“The attack that happened over two years ago changed Canadian Muslims’ relationship with their country,” said NCCM head Omar Khamissa.
“For the first time for many of us, we felt unsafe and targeted just for walking down the street.”
Both the prosecution and the defence agreed that he was driving that day but Veltman had pleaded not guilty, claiming to be mentally ill.
The jury heard evidence of Veltman’s hatred for Muslims and his obsessive consumption of far-right and anti-Muslim content online during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a document found by police after his arrest.
During his trial, he claimed he was influenced by a strict Christian upbringing and had an obsessive-compulsive disorder. He admitted to feeling detached from reality after taking magic mushrooms before running over the family.
He said he resisted the idea of running over Muslims twice before, but later, while out for food, he couldn’t stop the “urge” when he spotted the family out for a stroll.
Veltman will be sentenced at a later date. However, the punishment for first-degree murder is life in prison with no parole for 25 years under Canadian law.