Suitcase slaying victim's family relieved
Arrest made in Fatima Kama's death
The sister of a Montreal woman whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase more than a decade ago says the family is relieved authorities have finally made an arrest.
Police apprehended Youssef Ahmed Wahid in Bahrain on Tuesday in connection with the 1999 death of 28-year-old Fatima Kama.
A security guard discovered the wedding singer's body crammed into a black suitcase at London's Heathrow Airport. A post-mortem revealed she'd been stabbed more than 10 times.
For 11 years, the family felt helpless as Kama's birthdays passed by and there was no resolution to the case in sight, Kama's sister, Laila, said Tuesday.
"My mom was very ill during this period. Today, my mom didn't even cry or laugh – it's a shock. It's like it's on television, it's like a movie for us."
Kama's other sister, Magda, said news of Wahid's arrest was a painful reminder of what happened.
"But at the same time it does some good," Magda Kama said as she broke into tears. "She was a very beautiful woman, generous, helpful."
London's Scotland Yard said Wahid was arrested in what it described as a planned operation and his extradition was pending. The law enforcement agency will not comment any further on the arrest until Wahid's extradition.
Laila Kama said despite their repeated pleas, the family received no help from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs during their ordeal.
She said in the first three years after her sister's death, the family sent letters and made phone calls, but they never got a response from Ottawa. "They didn't do enough," she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said late Tuesday they were aware of the arrest.
Spokeswoman Ambra Dickie said Canadian consular officials will continue to provide consular assistance to the Kama family, but stopped short of providing further details citing privacy considerations.
Kama was born and raised in Morocco, but moved to Canada with her family in 1990. In her last year she spent about eight months in Lebanon, where she worked as a singer at weddings and private functions.
She had been scheduled to fly to her parents' home in Montreal on an Air Canada flight.
Wahid, a former Kuwait Airways steward, was arrested within days of the discovery at his hometown of Ramadiyeh in southern Lebanon, and he reportedly denied having anything to do with the killing. But he was eventually released and then went on the run.
Wahid's brother, Abdel Ahmed, was also arrested in connection with the case, but British prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, citing insufficient evidence.
Both Youssef Ahmed Wahid and Kama, a frequent visitor to the U.K., shared an address in west London and police have said that the motive for the slaying may have been the theft of Kama's money and jewelry, which has never been recovered.