Prosecutors wrap their case in fatal Mississauga shooting trial

After four weeks in court, the Crown has presented its final evidence in the trial of three men accused in a Mississauga restaurant shooting three years ago that left one man dead and left four others injured.

Naim Akl, 25, was killed in the May 29, 2021, attack in a restaurant called Chicken Land that was owned by his family. Akl's mother, father, brother and a family friend were injured.

Jihad Akl, Naim's father, was shot in the chest that night. It was busy at the restaurant when a man burst in and started firing, he testified in Superior Court in Brampton earlier this week.

"He shot my son in the front first then he shot my driver.… He shot me, he missed the second shot and it went to my son, Naim," Akl told the jury, saying he remembered seeing Naim Akl covered in blood.

"Then I saw my wife crying. I didn't know what was happening. I tried to talk to my son, I knew he was not going to make it."

Akl's daughter Sandra, who was 13 at the time, was shot at but escaped uninjured, court heard.

Crown prosecutors allege the shooting was planned by three men — Anand Nath, Suliman Raza and Naqash Abbasi. All three have pleaded not guilty to one count each of first-degree murder and five counts each of attempted murder.

Nath, from Mississauga, is accused of carrying out the shooting, while Raza, also from Mississauga, was the alleged getaway driver. Abbasi, from Brampton, was the alleged organizer, according to the Crown.

A heated falling out

Abbasi made "significant deletion of data and calls" from his phone in May 2021, according to an agreed statement of facts that prosecutor Brian McGuire read to the jury as their final piece of evidence in the case.

Prosecutors allege the three men had pledged allegiance to ISIS and were looking to silence Naim Akl because he planned to go to police about their actions.

Naim Akl, 25, was killed in a shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021.
Naim Akl, 25, was killed in a shooting at Chicken Land on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021. (Facebook/Canadian Druze Society)

Over the course of the trial, court heard the three accused worked at a warehouse business called TryAlinc. Naim Akl also worked there until there was a heated falling out and he left the business to work at his family restaurant, a colleague and friend of the victim, Ammar Hashmi, previously testified.

Mikail Aras, who testified last week, said the three accused pressured him to pledge allegiance to ISIS and told him about the murder plot. He also told the jury that Abbasi was sending money made from the business to ISIS.

When asked why no terrorism charges were laid in connection with the case, the Ministry of the Attorney General previously told CBC News it would be inappropriate to comment given the case is still before the courts.

A 'rapid' death

Court also heard from a Montreal Police officer Tuesday who arrested Nath when he turned himself in on June 10, 2021, after a Canada wide-arrest warrant was issued for him.

Nath was carrying a phone charger when he turned himself in but no phone, Const. Alexandra Henry testified.

Prosecutors have exhibited evidence from Raza's and Abbasi's phones throughout the trial.

Phone records from Abbasi's phones were used by defence lawyers in an attempt to poke holes in the testimony of Aras, who was the Crown's star witness.

The jury also saw X-rays of the victim's skull Tuesday, while a forensic pathologist testified Akl was shot in the head and mouth.

The injuries caused a "really rapid death, [taking] seconds," Jennifer Dmetrichuk testified.

Defence lawyers have not brought forward any witnesses.

Court resumes on Monday, when the Crown prosecutor and three defence lawyers will make their closing statements.