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PAUL SCHLIESMANN | QMI AGENCY
The girl also told Fortin that her mother, Tooba, responded to the suicide attempt by saying, “Let her do what she wants. Let her die.”
Court heard about a number of problems the Shafia children were having at Antoine-de Saint-Exupery school in the spring 2009.
Fortin said Sahar told her about being physically disciplined by her older brother, Hamed, and being alienated by her family in the home.
She was also unhappy about having to wear the hijab, a veil that would cover her hair in the Muslim tradition.
That same month, Sahar’s sister, Geeti, 13, told her teachers she wanted to be removed from the Shafia home and put into foster care.
Sahar, Geeti and their older sister, Zainab, as well as their “aunt,” Rona Amir Mohammad, were found drowned in a submerged car at the Kingston Mills locks early June 30, 2009.
Hamed, Tooba and the girls’ father, Mohammad, are each charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
On May 7, 2009, Sahar told her teachers:
** She had attempted suicide at home about 10 days earlier by taking a quantity of over-the-counter pills;
** That since October 2007 she had been “emotionally rejected by her parents” and had little contact with the family;
** That her brother, Hamed, had physically abused her on two occasions by hitting her on the shoulder and pushing a pair of scissors across the table that cut her.
A Montreal social worker sent to investigate considered Sahar a “code one” case – requiring immediate intervention that day.
By the time the worker arrived later in the afternoon, however, the girl was taking back the allegations.
“When I met with her she was very scared. She was crying and really didn’t want to meet,” said Jeaanne Rowe, a protection worker with Batshaw Youth and Family Centres in Montreal.
“She said, ‘I don’t want you to meet with my parents’,” recalled Rowe. “She was very, very scared about her parents knowing about the report.”
After talking to the girl, Rowe called the Shafia home to bring the family in for interviews.
The first to arrive were Tooba and Zainab. Tooba told Rowe that Sahar had not been rejected by the family.
“She was not aware Sahar took any pills,” Rowe said. “She adamantly denied that Hamed was physically or verbally abusing Sahar.”
Zainab told Rowe the same.
“She, too, denied any physical or verbal abuse by the brother,” Rowe told court.
Rowe and school staff recalled Mohammad being “quite angry” when he arrived later at the school with Hamed.
“He wanted to know the source of the report. He said he would speak to his lawyer to find out the source of the report,” Rowe said. “Everything he denied very openly. He didn’t give me any explanations for anything.”
Hamed was also interviewed and denied all of the allegations.
Fortin said that when the Shafias arrived at the school that day, none of them were happy with Sahar’s report.
She also noticed a change in the girl.
“Sahar had visual contact with her mother and father and brother. It seems that she saw them and I saw a child that started changing – going back on what she said,” Fortin said.
“This change of attitude surprised me and I was wondering, ‘Do I have before me a child that was afraid?'”
Two days later, on May 9, Rowe met again at the school with Sahar.
“She was not crying. She was seemingly happy. She was wearing the hijab. The first meeting she was not wearing the hijab,” recalled Rowe.
This time, Sahar admitted taking the pills.
“She said, ‘I didn’t want to kill myself. I was just sad’,” Rowe said.