Indian girl’s killer jailed in Canada

June 13th, 2009 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Vancouver, June 13 (IANS) Canada’s most famous murder case in which an Indian-origin girl was beaten unconscious and then drowned by eight white teenagers 12 years ago ended Friday with life term for the last accused.

Canada’s Supreme Court restored the guilty verdict against 26-year-old Kelly Ellard for beating and drowning 14-year-old Reena Virk in Victoria city near here in 1997. Earlier, an appeal court had rejected the guilty verdict against her by a lower court.

Many Indian Canadians saw racism in the attack as seven white girls and a boy, aged 14 to 16, had repeatedly bashed and then drowned dark-skinned Reena Virk in a gorge on the outskirts of Victoria - which is the capital of British Columbia province - on the night of Nov 14, 1997.

Her body was found floating in the water a week later.

Of the eight accused, the six (all girls) were given minor sentences and released. The only boy, Warren Glowatski, was sentenced for life in 1999, but has been released on day parole since.

Kelly Ellard, the last accused who was put behind bars for life Friday, was previously twice convicted in the case. But the verdict was overturned each time on her appeal.

After her third trial too, an appeal court in Vancouver had overturned her conviction in 2005.

But this time, the Canadian Supreme Court intervened Friday to reject the appeal court’s decision and restored Kelly Ellard’s life sentence by an 8-1 ruling.

“Our nightmare is over. Kelly is now locked for at least 20 years and we can believes there is a justice system in Canada,” Manjit Virk and Suman Virk, parents of the victim, told IANS on phone from Victoria after the verdict delivered in the nation’s capital Ottawa.

Virk, who came to Canada from Ambala city in Haryana in 1979, said, “These eleven years have been a living hell for me and my family. We lost all hope and felt let down by the Canadian legal system as this girl made appeal after appeal after her conviction thrice.”

In an angry tone, he asked, “Why did they (the government) spend millions of taxpayers’ money on her defence while we were put through this long, painful process?”

Kellya Ellard, who has already spent seven years behind bars, may be eligible for parole after 10 years.

Asked whether his daughter was attacked and then drowned because she was dark-skinned, Virk said: “I would say that race probably didn’t play that much role in my daughter’s killing, but the school system in Canada is certainly practising racism. They have to teach kids about other cultures and races.”

The Indian couple, who have a grown-up son and a daughter, said they were relieved to leave their personal tragedy behind and move on with their lives.

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