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The Afghan father accused in the deaths of almost half his clan is painting an idyllic picture of family life in Canada.

Mohammad Shafia, now 58, took the witness stand to testify in his own defence Thursday morning.

Led through his evidence by his lawyer Peter Kemp, Mr. Shafia said he was a liberal parent who didn’t care how his daughters dressed, and twice sobbed as he spoke about them.

His testimony is starkly at odds with how other witnesses have described the household. They said Mr. Shafia ran the house with an iron hand and that the girls lived like political prisoners.

Still, when he described finding a picture of 17-year-old Sahar with a boy, after the death of the girl and two sisters, he said, “My children did a lot of cruelty to me.”

He, his second wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their oldest son Hamed are pleading not guilty to four counts each of first-degree murder.

Sisters Sahar, 19-year-old Zainab and 13-year old-Geeti, plus Mr. Shafia’s first wife Rona Amir Mohammad, were found June 30 2009 in a black Nissan submerged at the Kingston Mills locks outside this city.

But Mr. Shafia’s two and a half hours of examination-in-chief was riddled with inconsistencies. At one point, for instance, he said he and Ms. Yahya had been at the Kingston Mills area before, apparently meaning on other holidays; at another, he said he’d never seen the area until Kingston Police showed him the accident scene.

And despite his self-portrait as a loving and kind father whose daughters called him “daddy,” it was evident he was still furious that Sahar had a boyfriend and that she and Zainab were dressing in short skirts.

“I was not happy with this,” he said of his purported discovery, after the four died, of a photo of Sahar with a boy’s arms around her. “I didn’t expect this of my children.”

Mr. Kemp put to him some of the most damaging statements Mr. Shafia made on police wiretaps which are now exhibits at trial — notably his furious wish that “the devil s—- on their graves.”

“To me, it means the devil will go out and check with them in their graves,” Mr. Shafia said. “If they have done a good thing, or a bad thing, it will be up to God.”

He will be cross-examined later Thursday.

– Christie Blatchford

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

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