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Mohammad Shafia, man convicted in so-called honour killings, ordered to pay wife’s legal fees

Mohammad Shafia arrives at Frontenac County courthouse in Kingston, Ont., on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

Lars Hagberg/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A man convicted of killing his three daughters and former wife in a so-called honour killing has been ordered to pay legal fees for one of his co-accused in the crime.

A judge in Kingston, Ont., has ordered that Mohammad Shafia pay more than $138,000 in legal fees to a lawyer who represented his wife, Tooba Yahya.

Shafia, Yahya and their son, Hamed Shafia, were all convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 deaths of their four relatives.

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A lawyer representing Shafia says the judgment, handed down on March 23, said the couple had to pay legal fees to Kingston, Ont. attorney David Crowe.

It also says that the elder Shafia is responsible for covering Yahya's legal costs, leaving him on the hook for just over $138,000 in total.

Neither Crowe nor his lawyer responded to a request for comment, but Shafia's lawyer, Eric Lavictoire, was critical of the decision.

"Despite the absence of a retainer agreement, written document or even an explicit verbal promise for our client to pay for Ms. Yahya's fees, the court deemed that our client was responsible for same," he said in a statement.

In his statement of claim, Crowe alleged he had barely received any payments in the five years since the conclusion of the trial that found the two Shafias and Yahya guilty on four counts of first-degree murder.

He also alleged that he had only received a single cheque for $20,000 shortly after the trio were convicted of killing daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and Shafia's first wife in a polygamous marriage, 52-year-old Rona Amir Mohammad.

Crowe also contended Shafia had agreed to pay his wife's legal costs and had previously made several payments by cheque.

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But the couple disagreed, arguing in their statement of defence that Shafia made no such arrangement and claiming the $20,000 cheque should have covered all outstanding fees.

Yahya insisted she had been told she had only a $20,000 balance at the end of the trial, saying the cheque issued a month later should have settled that debt.

A short while later, Crowe gave her a statement of accounts that showed her balance owing was close to $67,000, which was "inconsistent" with the amount given verbally, she argued.

She also alleged Crowe's hourly rate fluctuated significantly throughout the statement of account he provided, ranging from $350 to $450 at various times.

Though Shafia acknowledged he helped pay his wife's legal bills, he denied ever making "any verbal or written agreement" to do so.

The written decision in the lawsuit was not available.

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Shafia, Yahya and Hamed have been in custody since their arrests on July 22, 2009, and will have to spend at least 25 years from that date behind bars before they can apply for full parole.

Their bid for a new trial was quashed late last year after Ontario's top court ruled among other things that expert evidence on so-called honour killings had been properly admitted at their trial and the son was properly tried as an adult.

The victims' bodies were found on June 30, 2009 in a car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont.

The Crown at the trial asserted the murders were committed after the girls "shamed" the family by dating and acting out, and Amir Mohammad was simply disposed of.

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