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Mandel

Questions swirl around murder of Anthony Smith and rumoured link to Rob Ford video

By Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

He stands accused of a Toronto murder that, sad to say, few noticed or cared about — until we learned the dead man and his injured friend had once had their picture snapped with Mayor Rob Ford.

And so the tiny courtroom in the bowels of Old City Hall is filled with reporters and court artists anxious to learn something, anything, that may tie the embattled mayor to Hanad Mohamed, the second suspect now charged with the murder of 21-year-old Seneca College student Anthony Smith and the attempted murder of his 19-year-old friend, both of whom were seen posing with their arms around Ford.

That now infamous photo was published two weeks ago by two news outlets who said they obtained it from “Somali” drug dealers trying to sell a cellphone video that purported to show Ford smoking crack. The picture was supposedly offered as proof the mayor consorted with people allegedly in the drug trade.

Photographed in a black hoodie with one hand around the mayor and the other holding a beer bottle, was Smith the owner of the cellphone and the one who recorded the 90 seconds of explosive video? Was he murdered so someone else could get their hands on the lucrative footage?

The timing certainly seems strange. The Star reported that it was contacted about buying the video just four days after Smith was killed.

Could the murder and the Ford video actually be intertwined? That is certainly the popular theory that’s been swirling ever since this scandal broke two weeks ago. So one of the first questions reporters asked his lawyer was whether Mohamed had disclosed anything about a crack video or about knowing the mayor.

“The subject of Rob Ford never came up,” said Fariborz Davoudi with an uncomfortable laugh. “I have no interest in Rob Ford at all. Nothing like that.”

As to whether Smith’s cellphone — or any cellphone — was seized from Mohamed when he was arrested May 24 in Fort McMurray, Alta., Davoudi said that will become clear after he receives disclosure from the Crown. If police are searching his phone, that’s tightly under wraps. QMI Agency has reported that the Wood Buffalo RCMP has taken the unusual step of sealing the search warrant in Mohamed’s case.

Meanwhile his family insists they know nothing about a video or this slaying. The father of the accused killer cut short a trip to Kenya to rush to his child’s side. “My son is innocent,” Abdulkadir Mohamed told reporters on the steps of the courthouse. “He’s never been a criminal before.”

The Somali-Canadian businessman said his son has been working for four years as a security guard in Alberta and was well known in his community.

Tall and thin and dressed in a prison issue white coverall, Mohamed, 23, appeared nervous and scanned the tiny courtroom for his father.

“It’s a very difficult situation for him, it’s very emotional situation,” his lawyer explained. “He’s hardly ever been in any trouble before with the law so it’s a whole new experience but he’s coping as well as can be expected.”

On March 28, Smith and a friend, his name protected by a publication ban, were gunned down outside Loki Lounge on King St. W. Smith died a few hours later of his injuries while his friend survived. On April 4, Nisar Hashimi, 23, turned himself in and was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder while using a firearm.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Mohamed.

Did Smith die on a Toronto sidewalk because he was the owner of a blockbuster video that could mean a windfall of cash? Or was he simply the unfortunate victim of a street feud, as new reports now suggest? Was Ford’s photo with him just one of many he’s taken with his Etobicoke constituents or does it reveal a more nefarious connection?

Answers, if any, could be years away as the cases of Smith’s two accused killers slowly wind their way through the legal system, garnering more attention than the two men could have ever imagined.


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