Canadian man accused of killing Muslim family motivated by white nationalism, court hears | Canada #Canadian #man #accused #killing #Muslim #family #motivated #white #nationalism #court #hears #Canada

The man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family was motivated by white nationalist beliefs and was out to commit an act of “terrorism”, prosecutors have argued, during opening statements of a closely-watched murder trial that could reshape how Canada prosecutes far-right extremism.

Nathaniel Veltman, 22, is facing four charges of murder and one charge of attempted murder after driving his truck into five members of the Afzaal family while they were out for a walk in London, Ontario, on the evening of 6 June 2021.

Veltman told police that he killed the four members of the Afzaal family, but he has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is also facing terrorism charges.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44 their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal were all killed in the attack. The couple’s nine-year-old son was also seriously injured, but survived.

Speaking to a jury in the city of Windsor, Ontario, prosecutor Sarah Shaikh said Veltman planned his attack for three months before driving his Dodge Ram truck directly at the family.

Shaikh alleged the man drove his truck “pedal to the metal”, kicking up a cloud of dust as the vehicle surged over the sidewalk’s curb, striking his victims “because they were Muslims”. Veltman, an egg farmer from the nearby town of Strathroy, allegedly purchased the vehicle two weeks earlier.

The prosecutor said Veltman later told detectives that he left his home on the day of the attack looking for Muslims to kill, adding that he was inspired by the 2019 Christchurch shootings in which a white nationalist killed 51 people. He had written a manifesto called “A White Awakening” and identified himself as a white nationalist. Police found two versions of a document on his computer when they searched his home.

“I don’t regret what I did. I admit that it was terrorism. This was politically motivated, 100%,” he is alleged to have told detectives.

During the attack, Veltman was wearing body armour and a helmet and had bladed weapons hidden in the truck, Shaikh said. The prosecution says it will show that Veltman left the scene of the attack and asked asked a taxi driver at a nearby mall to call police.

“It’s me. It was me that did it,” Veltman allegedly told the driver. “Tell them I did it and come and arrest me.”

The brazen attack prompted both shock and an outpouring grief across Canada, renewing calls to combat Islamophobia.

The closely-watched case could also give clarity to the country’s anti-terrorism laws, passed in the wake of the September 11th attacks in the United States. Provisions within the Terrorism Act require the Crown to prove Veltman was motivated by politics, religion or ideology – and that he was intending to intimidate or strike fear in the public. Historically, the law has been used to prosecute people committing violence under Islamist extremism. Veltman’s trial marks one of the first ties the law has been used in the prosecution of someone believed to have been motivated by far-right ideology.

While the attack occurred in the city of London, the trial was moved to the city of Windsor. The reason for the move is covered under a publication ban.

The trial is expected to last about eight weeks, shorter than the initial 12 weeks after both the Crown and defence agreed to a shared statement of facts.

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