National News

Joint funeral held for alleged Markham homicide victims, accused in court

By The Canadian Press

Published 12:21 PDT, Fri August 2, 2019

Last Updated: 3:42 PDT, Fri August 2, 2019

Mourners packed an east Toronto mosque on Friday to remember four members of the same family who died in what police have described as a quadruple homicide.

TORONTO — Mourners packed an east Toronto mosque on Friday to remember four members of the same family who died in what police have described as a quadruple homicide.

The funeral service was held as a brief court appearance took place for Menhaz Zaman, a young man accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, sister and grandmother.

Many at the mosque said they were still struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

"We are really lost and frustrated," said Robin Islam, who called himself a longtime family friend. "I don't know how we are going to overcome this loss."

Police found the bodies of 70-year-old Firoza Begum, 59-year-old Moniruz Zaman, 50-year-old Momtaz Begum, and 21-year-old Malesa Zaman at a Markham, Ont., home on Sunday.

Menhaz Zaman was arrested at the scene and charged with four counts of first-degree murder a day later.

Islam said the older Zamans moved to Canada from Bangladesh in the 80s, hoping for a better life. The four deaths have shocked members of the Bangladeshi community, he said, but people have been coming together to help each other in the wake of the tragedy.

"Everyone is supporting each other, that's a good thing," he said. "Everybody wishing it would not happen."

Zaikia Alam, another family friend, said she remembers the four who died as social and outgoing. Momtaz Begum, she said, would often help out at a Bengali community centre.

"(They) were very friendly, nice people. Especially hard working," Alam said. "(Begum) would invite us and get together, she would come to our Bengali community. We are shocked."

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti was among those at the service and said the events of the last week were "difficult to understand."

"Questions will linger for a long time but it is during these times that we have to look to each other for support," he said.

"When our world becomes unstable, when we can't explain things, we do have to turn to our faith, and we do have to turn to those in the community for support."

Meanwhile, Zaman's brief court appearance in Newmarket, Ont., saw his case put over to Aug. 8.

The 23-year-old, who appeared via video link wearing glasses and an orange jumpsuit, said little during the hearing.

Among those in the courtroom was Roda Medhat, who said he attended the appearance to try to "piece together" how a tragedy occurred so close to his home.

The 24-year-old said he has lived a few streets down from Zaman for about 10 years and went to the same high school as him.

"He was a pretty quiet kid from what I could tell and he went home for lunch almost every day," said Medhat, who was in the grade above Zaman. "It's just weird to think back on my memories of him in high school after what's happened."

Medhat said news of the four deaths had rattled members of the local community.

"The neighbourhood is pretty grim right now," he said.

with files from Alanna Rizza in Newmarket, Ont.

– Lidia Abraha, The Canadian Press

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