Canadian man who murdered Muslim family sentenced to life in prison

Presiding judge says white nationalist's actions constituted terrorism

FILE PHOTO: Nathaniel Veltman, 20, accused of mowing down a Muslim family with his pickup truck in what Canadian police are calling a hate-motivated attack, appears briefly by Zoom before a judge during a court appearance in London, Ontario, Canada, June 10, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. Pam Davies/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo
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A Canadian white nationalist who ran over and killed four members of a Muslim family with his pick-up truck was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Nathaniel Veltman was found guilty of first-degree murder in November. Prosecutors and the presiding judge said the attack was an act of terrorism.

Five members of the Afzaal family were out for an evening walk in London, Ontario, in June 2021, when Veltman ran them over.

The victims were Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumnah, 15, and Mr Afzaal's mother Talat, 74.

Mr Afzaal and Ms Salman's nine-year-old son was also seriously wounded in the attack.

Shortly after the assault, Veltman admitted the killing.

He had pleaded not guilty to murder, with his lawyers saying he had mental health challenges. They argued for a lesser charge of manslaughter.

But Judge Renee Pomerance said she found the actions “to constitute terrorist activity”, the CBC reported.

The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man shot six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Ahead of the sentencing, the London Muslim Mosque said the verdict “could be precedent-setting”.

“If charged, this will be the first time far-right, white nationalism will be treated as and charged with terrorism,” it said in a post on Facebook.

“It will have large consequences for future trials and is very relevant to the Muslim community across our city and the country.”

Updated: February 22, 2024, 7:54 PM