Marrisa Shen murder trial shouldn't be 'political': mom's spokesperson
Marrisa Shen, 13, lived with her family near the Burnaby park where she was found dead. (Handout)
A representative of the mother of a young girl murdered in Burnaby two years ago says she doesn't want the case to become "political."
Meena Wong, speaking for the mother of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, responded to questions about what the family thinks of protests about Canada's immigration system. The queries were led by a federal byelection candidate who appeared at Vancouver Provincial Court on Tuesday.
"The mother appreciates people who come out and pay attention to Marissa Shen's murder. She doesn't want to make it political," said Wong.
"They should focus on the violence against women and children in our society, especially women of colour," Wong said.
Shen's body was discovered in Central Park in Burnaby in July 2017. A lengthy investigation resulted in charges last fall against 28-year-old Ibrahim Ali, a Syrian national who arrived in Canada just a few months before the killing.
Ali appeared in a jumpsuit at the hearing, with a translator relaying to him the discussion of routine aspects of the case.
Outside, about a dozen protesters unfurled a banner with Shen's picture, and signs saying "Punish murderer(s)," "Comprehensive Security Screening Now", "Canadian Values Back", and a sign to the mainstream media: "Report the Truth!"
Among them was Laura Lynn Thompson, a candidate in the Burnaby South byelection for the People's Party of Canada. Thompson made public safety a part of her platform, and received around 11 per cent of the vote, five times more than any other PPC candidates in other byelections.
"We will not live in fear. We will not import criminals to threaten us. Vetting must be better," said Thompson.
There has been no evidence produced yet that vetting somehow failed in letting Ali, a Syrian refugee, into the country. Canada settled more than 40,000 refugees from Syria during the eight-year-old civil war.
Ali is charged with first degree murder but has not yet faced a trial, where more evidence of what happened in that vetting process may come out.
"This is not about being racist. It's not about different ethnic groups. It's about the loss of a young girl," Thompson said.
Outside Vancouver Provincial Court, Wong said that she did not know whether Ali should be freed or what the court result should be.
Instead, she described Shen.
"I met her only once. She was amazingly bright. She was an amazing young woman with great potential," she lamented.