Coroner's investigation into Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's remains continues

Three weeks after the deadly attack on Parliament Hill, the medical evidence in the death of shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is still being examined by the Ottawa coroner's office.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial Oct. 22 before rushing Parliament Hill, where he was shot dead. (Twitter)

Note: This story has been updated. Please see Correction note below.

Three weeks after the deadly attack on Parliament Hill, the medical evidence in the death of shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is still being examined by the Ottawa coroner's office. 

And CBC News has learned that the process is far from finished. 

It's a complicated medical investigation, in which the trajectory of each of many gunshot wounds must be traced from entry point to exit wound, and where possible, each wound connected to a specific shot fired by an individual.​ 

The process often involves a mix of X-ray scans and hands-on autopsy.​ Once scans and photos have been obtained, the body is released, but analysis of results can continue for a long time before the investigation is complete.

Zehaf-Bibeau's body has now been released, although it's not clear to whom, or what will happen to it now.

Toxicology​ tests are being conducted to determine ​if Zehaf-Bibeau was under the influence of any drugs on Oct. 22 when he shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before streaking up to Parliament Hill and dying in a shootout with authorities.

No request for Muslim cemetery to take remains

IIslam forbids cremation, leaving Ottawa's Muslim community wrestling with the question of how to respond if asked to give Zehaf-Bibeau's remains a Muslim funeral.

Some have been very reluctant to be associated with Zehaf-Bibeau in any way.​

So far, there has been no request to any Muslim cemetery to take his remains. Nor has anyone contacted the Ottawa Muslim Association requesting funeral services.

But already, in anticipation that might happen, board​ ​members have discussed what to do.​ Many were inclined to say no.

One prominent member of the mosque told CBC News he was motivated more by disapproval of Zehaf-Bibeau's actions than by concern about what others might think. In the end Samy Metwally, imam of the Ottawa mosque, ruled that — if asked — the Ottawa mosque will not deny a funeral to a Muslim.

"While denouncing what he did as a crime, a terrorist attack against a soldier who was serving the country, we say that if he's believing in God, if he's a Muslim, then he should be buried," says the imam. "We will give him a funeral service."

Metwally says that, as in the Christian faith, even the worst of sinners are not denied funeral rites.

'It is for God to be his judge'

"As he has done his crime, so we leave him to God to judge him, in the hereafter. It is for God to be his judge," says Imam Metwally.

But the imam says he will not personally lead the funeral prayer for Zehaf-Bibeau, in order to discourage others from following his example and to express the congregation's disapproval of what Zehaf-Bibeau did in life.

Zehaf-Bibeau's mother is not a Muslim​. His Libyan-born father is believed to be out of the country and he has no siblings. So it's not clear who could lead a funeral service.

Nor is it clear where or how he would be buried.

One Muslim cemetery said it was concerned that accepting his remains might lead to vandalism, or even an attempt to disinter the body. The funeral director at another cemetery that has a Muslim section said he would not deny him burial, but would insist that any ceremony be very discreet. He said he also might insist that any grave not be marked, in order to prevent it from becoming a place of pilgrimage for like-minded extremists.


  • This story has been edited from an earlier version that said that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's body was still being examined at the coroner's office. In fact, while the coroner's investigation continues, the body itself has been released.
    Nov 18, 2014 10:42 PM ET


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