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Suspect in shooting death linked to Rob Ford controversy held in custody

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is shown on the U.S. website Gawker.com published Thursday May 16, 2013.

Gawker.com

One of two men charged in a shooting death linked to the Rob Ford video controversy was remanded in custody Friday morning after a brief appearance at Old City Hall.

Hanad Mohamed, 23, was picked up by the RCMP in Fort McMurray, Alta., last Friday, a week after a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest was issued, and was flown to Toronto Thursday.

His case was put over to June 21, when he will reappear in court by video link.

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A tall, skinny figure clad in a white windbreaker, Mr. Mohamed spoke briefly to one of his lawyers during the 10-minute hearing before he was led back to the basement holding cells.

Mr. Mohamed is an Alberta resident and was born in Canada, his lawyer, Fariborz Davoudi, said outside court.

Co-accused Nisar Hashimi, also 23, turned himself in April 4 after he was named as a suspect in the March 28 homicide.

Both men face charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder after Anthony Smith, 21, was killed and a longtime friend, Muhammad Khattak, 19, was injured.

Also in court Friday was Mr. Mohamed's father, Abdulkidir Mohamed, who cut short a visit to Kenya upon learning of his son's arrest.

"My son is innocent, he's never been a criminal," he said afterward.

"He finished high school with good grades and he's been working (as a security guard) for the past four years."

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The two shooting victims were gunned down at the corner of King Street West and Portland Street, and homicide detectives said at the time the twin shootings were a targeted hit.

A widely circulated photograph allegedly shows Mayor Rob Ford posing for a photograph with both victims, stirring speculation the shooting is related to a cellphone video clip said to depict Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine.

The purported video has never been aired publicly.

But an editor at Gawker, the website that first broke the news of the alleged video, said he was shown the photo of the three men by the video's owners as evidence of Mr. Ford's ties to the drug scene.

Sources familiar with the investigation say detectives have obtained search warrants for Mr. Mohamed's cellphone and homes and are looking for at least one other suspect.

His arrest follows nearly two weeks of drama at City Hall.

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Since reports of the alleged video surfaced, Mr. Ford's chief of staff has been fired and four other members of his inner circle have quit.

Mr. Ford has since denied that he uses crack cocaine, and said that no such video exists.

Asked about the photograph on a call-in radio program last weekend, he said he did not know Mr. Smith, adding "I take pictures with everyone."

In recent years, dozens of young Somali-Canadians have been killed after becoming involved in the drug trade in Ontario and Alberta.

Mr. Davoudi said Friday he was still getting up to speed on the case, which he has just acquired.

"It's a very difficult situation for him, a very emotional situation," he said of his client " He's hardly ever been in trouble before with the law so it's a whole new experience, he's coping as well as can be expected."

Mayor Ford's troubles and the alleged video did not arise during his brief discussions with his client, Mr. Davoudi added.

"The subject never came up, I have no interest in Rob Ford at all."

Most of what transpired in the courtroom Friday was placed under a publication ban.

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About the Author

At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More

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