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Man who killed 4 members of Muslim family in London, Ont. given 5 life sentences in prison

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A London, Ont. judge has handed down her sentence in the case of Nathaniel Veltman, convicted of killing four members of a Muslim family and seriously injuring a young boy in June of 2021. 

Veltman, 23, was found guilty in November of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk on June 6, 2021.

Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah were all killed while their then nine-year-old son was seriously injured.

Justice Renee Pomerance ruled Thursday that Veltman’s actions “constitutes terrorist activity.”

Pomerance gave Veltman four life sentences for the deaths of four members of the Afzaal family. She also delivered a life sentence for the attempted murder conviction of the Afzaal’s then nine-year-old son, bringing the total to five life sentences in prison. 

An offender serving life for first-degree murder is eligible for full parole 25 years after the date they were taken into custody, which was June 6, 2021.

Addressing the court, Pomerance said she is not using Veltman’s name during sentencing because she does not want to give others like him a platform, and is only referring to him as the offender.

She added that it was a planned and deliberate attack meant to intimidate a segment of the public, and said Veltman is a self-proclaimed white nationalist with offensive and racist views.

"It is an inescapable conclusion that the offender committed a terrorist act," she told the court.  

Sentencing got underway at 10 a.m. at London’s courthouse where Veltman was seen seated in the prisoner’s box wearing a black suit.

The main courtroom was full, with an overflow courtroom needing to be utilized. 

Justice Renee Pomerance hands down her sentence in the case of Nathaniel Veltman, 23, following his conviction in the deaths of four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont. on Feb. 22, 2024. (Source: John Mantha)

Afzaal family statement

In a written statement from the Afzaal family, the family first thanked “everyone who worked towards this decision,” including the judge, courtroom employees in London and Windsor, London police, and their fellow Canadians.

Hearing the sentence read out loud in court on Thursday, the Afzaal family said they feel “both a hollowness and a storm brewing within.”

“We don’t know if it’s closure or justice. What we do know is that the verdict will not bring back what was stolen. It will not mend the fractured pieces of our lives, our identity, and our security,” the statement reads.

The family acknowledges that physical and emotional scars will remain, but that they refuse to reply to an act of hatred with more hate. Instead, they said they will choose to honour of the memory of the family “by fighting for a world where such tragedies never have to happen again.”

The statement went on to acknowledge the terrorism designation delivered by the judge, and that hate was responsible for claiming the lives of Talat, Salman, Madiha and Yumnah. The family said such hatred does not exist in a vacuum, and instead thrives in whispers, prejudices and a “normalized fear of the other.”

“The hate hidden in plain sight was normalized by the unchallenged belief that a racial hierarchy exists in Canada,” the statement reads.

The trial however wasn’t just about one solitary act, the family said, and instead serves as a reminder of the fault lines that run through society, and the stereotypes that can erupt into violence.

While the verdict does offer a semblance of justice, the family said their work does not end here.

Members of the Afzaal family speak to the media outside London, Ont.'s courthouse following the sentencing of Nathaniel Veltman on Feb. 22, 2024. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)“We all have a responsibility to carry,” the family said. “During this trial, we [learned] that this hate is not just a threat to the Muslim community, not even just to the London community. Hate is a societal enemy that threatens the very core of family values.”

The family implores people to not just condemn hatred, but to outright confront it. They said this can be accomplished by dismantling systems that allow hatred to thrive and by actively challenging narratives that fuel it.

In order to accomplish this, the family said bridges of solidarity must be built with different communities, churches, other faith groups, cultural communities, and “everyone across the spectrum of society.”

“A true victory lies in creating a Canada where everyone feels safe, respected and valued, regardless of who they are or what they believe,” the statement reads. “This is the Canada we strive for, and the world Our London Family deserved.”

In the final part of their written statement, the Afzaal family addressed Veltman directly.

“Your hate may have taken four beautiful lives and almost a fifth, but it will not win,” the family said. “As Canadians, we will always rise above, stronger and united.” 

This is a breaking news story. More to come.

-- With files from CTV News London’s Nick Paparella and CTV News Windsor's Michelle Maluske 

Justice Renee Pomerance'... by CTV News

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