Trial Begins in Alleged Hate Crime Against Afzaal Family by Nathaniel Veltman

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The trial of Nathaniel Veltman, the 22-year-old who stands accused of four counts of first-degree murder and one attempted murder count, has begun with the commencement of opening statements. It is alleged that Veltman intentionally ran over the Afzaal family, a Muslim family in London, Ontario with his pickup truck in June 2021.

In her opening address, federal prosecutor Sarah Shaikh outlined to the jury the evidence they intend to present. Veltman had directed his truck straight towards the Afzaal family, driving with his foot fully pressed on the accelerator. According to Shaikh, Veltman had sighted the family, took a u-turn on Hyde Park Road, accelerated and drove his truck over the curb.

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The jury heard that the force of impact sent some family members flying into the air. Furthermore, Shaikh illuminated the court that there is evidence showing Veltman fleeing the accident scene to park near a local mall, where he reached out to a nearby taxi driver for assistance in summoning the police. “It’s me. It was me that did it. Tell them I did it and come and arrest me” Veltman was purported to have told the taxi driver.

During his preliminary police questioning, Veltman confessed to intentionally carrying out the act “on purpose” because the victims were Muslims, Shaikh informed the jury. He openly admitted to having planned on killing, expressing no regret for his actions, categorizing his act as terrorism, and verbalizing his belief that he was sending a strong message owing to the damage he perceived was being caused by “mass immigration”.

In the roll call of the prosecution’s witnesses, the first disclosure involved a family member of the Afzaal family who testified to their peace-loving nature. Expressing that Talat Afzaal held a Masters in Fine Arts and had meticulous self-care, while Salman, his wife Madiha were hardworking, kind and academically accomplished, with their daughter Yumnah being a sweet girl whose life was prematurely ended.

The court was presented with two agreed-upon statements of facts, the first confirming Nathaniel Veltman, indeed, struck the Afzaal family with his truck and detail on the outcome for all victims at the scene and at the hospital. The second statement provided specific details about Veltman’s vehicle behavior seconds prior to the fatal impact.

Created data was also presented from Veltman’s erratic driving witnesses and surveillance footage analysis showing the lead up to the horrific crash. Forensic experts captured, edited, and presented chilling visual evidence of Veltman’s vehicle barreling towards the innocent family waiting to cross the street.

The incident on June 6, 2021, saw the death of four family members after being struck by a pickup truck while walking along Hyde Park Road. Salman Afzaal, his wife Hadiha, his mother Talat, and their daughter Yumna perished while a young boy survived with injuries. Veltman was arrested and charged shortly after and has since pleaded not guilty to all charges. The prosecution contends that his actions were driven by terrorism.

Moved to Windsor’s superior court, the trial is slated to continue for the next two to three months. Serving on the jury are eight men and six women.