The young man who is accused of deliberately hitting four members of a Muslim family with his truck on Sunday in Canada, while facts about his personality have begun to see the light of day.
Nathaniel Weltman, 20, appeared for a few minutes via video link from the prison where he is being held in court.
Wearing an orange T-shirt and mask, with short hair, he simply stated his name and answered some questions from the judge. He is expected to appear in court again on Monday.
Canada: Defendant also faces life imprisonment
According to AMPE, the young man, who has a clear criminal record and no known connection with an extremist organization, has been charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
He is also being accused of “terrorism”, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trinto and many members of the Muslim community speaking out against “a terrorist attack”.
Canadian Public Order Minister Bill Blair told the CBC yesterday that “police are conducting an investigation into the terrorist attack.”
Sunday night in London, 200 miles southwest of Toronto, Veltman deliberately threw his truck at the Afzaal family, “Premeditated and planned action, motivated by hatred”, according to police.
Five members of this family were hit by the van while waiting to cross an intersection. Four of them were killed – a couple, their daughter and grandmother – and a 9-year-old boy was seriously injured.
The perpetrator of the attack was arrested seven kilometers away in front of a shopping center, when a taxi driver, also a Muslim, was found in front of him. The 20-year-old man parked his truck behind the taxi.
“He shouted at our colleague to call the police because he killed someone,” said taxi chief Hassan Savehilagi.
The perpetrator was wearing a T-shirt with swastikas, a bulletproof vest and a military helmet, while laughing when he was arrested, according to the taxi driver.
Weltman was described as resilient in 2016 and had been treated for psychological problems, according to court documents concerning his parents’ divorce, which were cited by Canadian media. He and his twin sister are the eldest children of a family of six children, aged 10 to 20.
Yesterday, Mark Weltman’s father commented for the first time on the incident and expressed “his horror”.
“When I learned of the horrific crime committed last weekend, I was shocked and horrified,” he said in a statement to several media outlets. “No words will suffice to express my deep sorrow for the victims of this absurd act,” he added.
The attack claimed the lives of three generations of the Pakistani-born Afzaal family who settled in Canada in 2007: in Madiha, 44, a doctoral candidate, Salman’s husband, a 46-year-old physiotherapist, their daughter Yumna, 15; the 74-year-old grandmother of the Talat family.
The couple’s son, 9-year-old Fayez, was seriously injured, but his life is not in danger. He is even hospitalized has learned that his family was killed, as broadcast by CBC and rebroadcast by AMPE.
The incident caused outrage and intense emotion, but also a huge wave of solidarity in Canada.
On Tuesday night, several thousand people participated in an overnight in honor of the victims in the presence of many politicians, including Trinto.
Besides, the residents of London have been invited to attend the funeral of the victims, which will take place tomorrow Saturday at 13:30 local time (20:30 Greek time).