Canada police: 2 teen fugitives took their own lives

Kam McLeod, 19 and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, suspects in the murder of an Australian tourist and his American girlfriend in northern British Columbia, and charged with the second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck, are seen in a combination of still images from undated CCTV taken in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) July 26, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 August 2019

Canada police: 2 teen fugitives took their own lives

  • Police were investigating photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife that Schmegelsky allegedly sent online to a friend on the video-game network Steam

TORONTO: Canadian police said Monday they believe two teenage fugitives suspected of killing a North Carolina woman, her Australian boyfriend and another man took their own lives amid a nationwide manhunt.
The Manitoba Medical Examiner completed the autopsies and confirmed that two bodies found last week in dense bush in northern Manitoba province were indeed 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky. A police statement said they appeared to die by suicide.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer whose body was found July 19 along a highway in British Columbia.
They were also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where Dyck was killed. The couple had met at a hostel in Croatia and their romance blossomed as they adventured across the US, Mexico, Peru and elsewhere, the woman’s older brother said.
A manhunt for the teenage suspects had spread across three provinces and involved the Canadian military. The suspects had not been seen since July 22, and their bodies were found near Gillam, Manitoba — more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from northern British Columbia.
Police said in a statement McLeod and Schmegelsky were dead for a number of days before they were found, but said there were strong indications they had been alive for a few days after they were last seen. Two guns were located, and authorities are working to definitively confirm that the firearms are connected to the murders in British Columbia.
The British Columbia Prosecution Service said criminal charges don’t move forward if the person who has been accused is proven dead.
Police said items that were found on the shoreline of the Nelson River proved key in helping locate the suspects. Specialized teams began searching high-probability areas nearby, and on Wednesday morning, the two bodies were found within 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) of the objects.
The deaths of the three victims had shaken rural northern British Columbia and Manitoba.
Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said last month that he expected the nationwide manhunt to end in the death of his son, who he said was on “a suicide mission.”
McLeod and Schmegelsky grew up on Vancouver Island and worked together at a local Walmart before they set off on what their parents thought was a trip to Yukon for work.
They were originally considered missing persons and only became suspects later.
Police were investigating photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife that Schmegelsky allegedly sent online to a friend on the video-game network Steam.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son took him to an army surplus store about eight months ago in his small Vancouver Island hometown of Port Alberni, where his son was excited about the Nazi artifacts.


Afghan writer’s book of poems gives voice to refugees stranded in Indonesia

Updated 28 February 2020

Afghan writer’s book of poems gives voice to refugees stranded in Indonesia

  • The book is titled after the red ribbon Haidari untied from his dead sister’s hair while fleeing an attack on his village

JAKARTA: An Afghan writer who fled war to Indonesia six years ago has penned a book of poems giving voice to the plight of his fellow refugees.

“The Red Ribbon,” by Abdul Samad Haidari, tells the story of asylum-seekers stranded in Indonesia and their protracted wait for resettlement to a third country.

Launched on Sunday, the book is titled after the red ribbon Haidari untied from his dead sister’s hair while fleeing an attack on his village, Dahmarda, in the Arghandab district of Zabul province.

Having worked as a freelance journalist in his country, Haidari, of Hazara ethnicity, told Arab News he had sought solace in poetry when he realized there was little else he could do while a refugee in Indonesia.

He described the book’s publication as a miracle, given the challenges and limitations he has faced.

“It took me more than five years to complete it, with persistence, faith, sweat, tears, and an empty stomach in a humid room some 60 km away from Jakarta, in a remote village,” he said during a launch event at a cultural center in Jakarta.

The poems chronicle Haidari’s life and the circumstances on the night he fled his home to Indonesia, where he has since suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, loneliness and separation.

One of his verses, titled “Dedication to evergreen Indonesia,” is a tribute to the country which for the past seven years has given him shelter. Indonesia’s arms were “warmer than the arms of those who had thrown me out of my hometown,” the poem reads.

Writer and author Carissa Finneren described the poems as “honest and raw,” while poet Ruby Astari told Arab News that she hoped Haidari would become the voice of fellow Afghan refugees and those who were oppressed.

Haidari arrived in Indonesia in 2014 and in 2016 was granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which makes him eligible for resettlement to a third country.

He is one of some 14,000 refugees — more than half of them from Afghanistan — registered with the UNHCR office in Indonesia, who have been waiting for years to be resettled.

Indonesia acts as a transit country, as it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Its national laws bar refugees and asylum seekers from working. Some of them have access to basic education and healthcare, although very limited.

Their wait has been stretched further as countries that are party to the convention have reduced their refugee intake. Australia, which used to be the main destination for asylum seekers transiting in Indonesia, froze its resettlement program on July 1, 2014.

“The book is a much-needed manifestation of what refugees bring to the world when they are allowed to, encouraged to, given space and opportunities to do so,” said Ann Mayman, UNHCR representative in Indonesia.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Faizullah Zaki Ibrahimi, said the poems made readers feel the pain of a generation that had suffered due to Afghanistan’s long and deadly conflict.

A new hope, the ambassador said, was sparked by a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, which has been in place since Saturday, ahead of an expected peace agreement between the US and the Taliban. If extended, it could eventually lead to peaceful dialogue and eliminate the main cause of Afghans seeking refuge around the world, the envoy added.

“We hope that someday peace comes back to Afghanistan and democracy thrives.”