The publisher of an Assyrian news website says the violence that was alleged to have occurred in Vaughan between two Christians is “unheard of” in his turbulent home country of Iraq.
Ashoor Sada, who publishes the Assyrian Voice online, says he was shocked to discover York Regional Police had laid second-degree murder charges against Azize Sepan in relation to the killing of Evan Gorgees, the 29-year-old Toronto man killed during a 30-man brawl.
“There are lots of divisions between ethnic groups back home,” said the Vaughan resident. “But Christian on Christian? That’s unheard of. I was truly shocked to hear about this incident and this development. That’s the first word that comes to mind, shock and disbelief.”
His comments came hours after police arrested and charged the 48-year-old Vaughan resident with the slaying of Mr. Gorgees in the parking lot of Al-Finjan restaurant and nightclub, at 8000 Hwy. 27, near Hwy. 7, on July 23.
Mr. Sada, who lives in Woodbridge, said the Assyrian ethnic group are descendants of the Assyrian Empire, which ruled part of the Middle East more than 1,000 years before Christ, and mostly live in Northern Iraq.
So far, the only contact Mr. Sada has had with the case is his brother attending Mr. Gorgees’s funeral and posting news articles onto his website, which has a forum for comment and discussion.
“The fact that Evan came here to escape the violence in Iraq, it’s just terribly ironic,” he said. “He had an open casket and the wounds were visible from the fight.”
As for how the original argument started between the two groups of men in the club, he said he has heard so many different versions of events he stopped believing any of them.
Nonetheless, he said he truly believes justice will be served.
“Some people (in the Iraqi community) might not have complete faith in the justice system, but I think it will work out,” he added. “You cannot apply the laws back home to Canada. The law here is above all else, so we just have to be patient.”
In a string of Toronto Star articles, Mr. Sepan is listed as having escaped Iraq in 1985 during the Iraq/Iran war. He later came to Canada and opened a string of convenience stores across the GTA and a flower shop.
It’s also been reported that he has helped bring 100 Iraqis to Canada through his work with World Vision.
Mr. Sada said he believes about 3,000 Iraqi-Christians live in Vaughan and about 15,000 in GTA.