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Canada’s Supreme Court allows access to murdered billionaires’ estate files

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Canada‘s Supreme Court on Friday ordered the estate files of a slain Canadian pharmaceutical billionaire couple to be unsealed, reasserting the principle that court proceedings should be public in a case led by the Toronto Star newspaper.

Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found hanging by belts from a railing at their Toronto mansion in late 2017, a crime police are investigating as a targeted double murder. No one has been charged.

Trustees were appointed to handle the couple’s affairs, and the estate files were sealed by a judge, denying Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan access to them and setting in motion a three-year court battle that ended on Friday.

Canada‘s nine justices unanimously agreed that the couple’s files should never have been held back.

“There is a strong presumption in favor of open courts,” the court wrote. In this case the arguments for withholding the documents were never strong enough.

The court files include the last will and testament of Barry Sherman, the founder of generic drug giant Apotex, and the estate of his wife, according to the Star.

Canadian courts are considered presumptively open and information filed in court proceedings is public.

Last year, police said they had identified a person of interest. No possible motive has ever been provided by investigators.

The Sherman family has criticized police handling of the deaths and hired a private investigator of their own to look into the case. The detective completed the work in 2019 but gave no details to the public.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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Nathaniel Veltman who killed Muslim family members to face terror charges

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Nathaniel Veltman who is accused of deliberately running over a Muslim family with his truck, killing four of them, now faces terrorism charges in addition to those for murder, prosecutors said on Monday.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was arrested shortly after the June 6 attack in a parking lot in London, Ontario, a short distance from the city’s oldest mosque. He was wearing what appeared to be body armor and a helmet at the time, police said.

Due to a publication ban, details from a hearing in which Veltman appeared by Zoom on Monday from jail cannot be revealed.

However, provincial and federal prosecutors provided their consent to commence terrorism proceedings against him, alleging that the killings of Salman Afzaal, his wife, their daughter and Afzaal’s mother, and attempted killing of the couple’s son constituted terrorist activity, according to a statement from London police.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reacted to the new charges afterward, saying: “It is really important for us to name it as an act of terror … and it is important for us identify the terrible threat that white supremacism poses to Canada and to Canadians.”

The members of the Afzaal family were out for an evening walk near their home when they were mowed down. The one survivor of the attack – a nine-year-old boy, remains in a hospital with serious injuries.

It was the worst attack against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

So far, few details have emerged that would shed light on why police say it was a pre-meditated, hate-motivated crime. Veltman is due in court again on June 21.

(Reporting by Steve SchererEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)

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Trudeau called for concerted G7 approach to China

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led a Group of Seven discussion of China on Saturday and called on leaders to come up with a unified approach to the challenges posed by the People’s Republic, a source said.

G7 leaders – who together control about $40 trillion in economic clout – reached broad alignment on building a concerted approach to China, the source with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

“Trudeau’s message today was that we really need to work to build a consensus on a unified approach to the challenges that China presents all of us,” the source said. “We have to show solidarity as a group and show action as a group as well.”

“There is a general alignment” at the G7 on China, the source said.

 

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Michael Holden)

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Ukraine’s president thanks G7 nations for support

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Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, thanked the G7 group of wealthy industrial nations on Sunday after it voiced support for Kyiv and called on Russia to withdraw troops and weapons from near Ukraine’s eastern border.

Leaders of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan reaffirmed their backing for Ukraine and called on Moscow to stop its destabilising behaviour in a communique issued after a three-day summit in the UK.

“Commend the unwavering support by #G7 states in the Summit’s communiqué,” Zelenskiy wrote in Twitter.

“Grateful to leaders for the continued support for Ukraine’s independence & sovereignty & the call to the aggressor to withdraw troops from Ukraine’s borders & Crimea. #Crimea is Ukraine!”

Kyiv hopes pressure from Western allies could force Moscow to withdraw tens of thousands of its troops deployed in April near Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

The West expressed concern about the worsening of the situation in the eastern region of Donbass, where Ukrainian troops fought Russian-backed forces in a conflict that Kyiv said had killed 14,000 people since 2014.

 

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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