'He destroyed many lives': Toronto man gets life in prison for killing his wife
A Toronto neurosurgeon who murdered his physician wife has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years – punishment the victim’s family says is not enough.
Mohammed Shamji, 43, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Elana Fric Shamji, a family doctor whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in the fall of 2016.
The couple’s three children are now being raised by Fric Shamji’s parents, who delivered an emotional plea outside the courtroom on Thursday.
“Please help to keep Elana’s memory alive in the hope that other women can be saved from such a horrible fate,” her mother, Ana Fric, told reporters.
Fric said her daughter endured 12 years of domestic abuse, including a “vicious sexual assault,” before she was killed on Nov. 30, 2016. She said she begged her to leave Shamji many times, but her daughter held out hope that her marriage would improve, despite “constant arguments” and acts of violence.
“She felt worthless in his eye…She was berated and belittled.”
Fric also said that Shamji had a “lengthy affair” with another woman which devastated her daughter and helped her reach the decision to leave him.
Court heard that Fric Shamji served her husband with divorce papers two days before he attacked her, broke her neck and ribs and choked her to death, as their children slept in the house.
Shamji then stuffed his wife's body in a suitcase and dumped it in a river, according to evidence presented in court.
In a lengthy statement to the media after the sentencing, Fric described her escalating terror when she realized that “something terrible” must have happened to her daughter.
She said the two of them spoke on the phone the night before, and when she couldn’t reach Fric Shamji the following morning, she began to panic and call Shamji and his parents.
When she finally reached Shamji, she said he “calmly” told her that his wife had packed up her things and left with her “boyfriend.” But Fric said she knew her daughter would never leave without her children, so she and her husband Joe drove all night from Windsor, Ont. to Toronto to find out what happened.
After the Frics called police to report their daughter missing, the case quickly unravelled and Fric Shamji’s body was found in the suitcase that her mother had given her. Fric said the suitcase still had her own name tag on it.
Fric said her daughter was so badly beaten that she didn’t even recognize her when police first showed her a photo.
Fric and her husband told reporters that no punishment will justify what Shamji “has done to Elana and especially to children.”
Fric said she believes her daughter’s murder was premediated, but since there was no evidence of that, the family has to accept Shamji’s second-degree murder plea. She said she wishes Canada had the death penalty because Shamji “deserves” it.
Fric Shamji’s oldest daughter, 14-year-old Yasmin, told CTV Toronto that she went to her father’s sentencing because she “wanted him to know that I was there, just to see me after two and a half years, to let him know.”
“Not in a good way, not in way that (would) make him feel OK. I wanted him to feel that he’s been missing out on my childhood.”
Asked how she feels about her father, Yasmin said, “I hate him, honestly.”
During the sentencing, Justice John McMahon credited Shamji for pleading guilty, which prevented a potentially lengthy trial and saved one of his daughters from testifying as a key witness. But he condemned the brutal nature of Fric Shamji’s murder, saying, "The nature of the violence is extreme."
Crown attorney Henry Poon told reporters outside court that this “tragic” case was “very polarizing in many respects,” but that setting Shamji’s parole eligibility at 14 years was determined under case law and deemed “appropriate.”
The Frics say there will never be justice for their daughter’s violent death and they hope Shamji is never granted parole or allowed to practice medicine in Canada again.
“He destroyed many lives,” Fric said. “He took an oath to keep people alive, not to kill.”
With files from The Canadian Press