Vik­tor Mu­bili wants Be­tiana Mu­bili buried in Canada, aunt favours Zam­bia

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - AEDAN HELMER ahelmer@post­ Twit­ helmera

A fa­ther in cus­tody bat­tle fol­low­ing sky­div­ing death

Be­tiana Mu­bili plunged to her death in a sky­div­ing mishap three weeks ago, but in­stead of mak­ing fu­neral ar­range­ments for his daugh­ter, Vik­tor Mu­bili is locked in a cus­tody bat­tle over her re­mains, which he says are be­ing “held hostage” in Toronto.

Be­tiana (Betty) Mu­bili, a 29-year-old Cana­dian Forces medic, died Aug. 27 when her para­chute failed to open dur­ing a solo recre­ational jump with Sky­dive Petawawa. Her death re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by OPP and the coro­ner’s of­fice.

Her fa­ther was dev­as­tated by the news.

But he was not ex­pect­ing a dis­pute when he flew from New­found­land, where he works in the min­ing in­dus­try, to Toronto on Sept. 5 to iden­tify her body.

He was con­tacted by his old pas­tor, Paul W. Martin, who was made trustee of Betty’s estate in her last will, pre­pared Oct. 14, 2015.

Martin told the el­der Mu­bili that Betty’s aunt had re­quested the body be shipped back to her na­tive Zam­bia for burial. When he ar­rived in Toronto, Mu­bili claims his daugh­ter’s re­mains were al­ready in the hands of a ship­ping com­pany.

Mu­bili be­lieves his daugh­ter, who served in Afghanistan and was on her way to be­com­ing a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer at the time of her death, would have wanted to be buried with her fel­low Cana­dian sol­diers.

“She is a Cana­dian cit­i­zen, she fought for Canada, she is a Cana­dian war vet­eran and to send her back to be buried in a for­eign coun­try is not right,” he said. “She would want to be buried among her com­rades.”

Mu­bili im­me­di­ately sought a court in­junc­tion “to stop the trans­fer of the de­ceased’s body to Zam­bia,” ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments filed in court on Sept. 7.

Martin did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. His Toronto-based lawyer Paul Trudelle said the mat­ter will be heard at Toronto’s Su­pe­rior Court on Sept. 20.

Mu­bili said while he is cur­rently in the process of hir­ing a lawyer, “I didn’t want lawyers (in­volved), I didn’t want courts. But such is life.”

Vik­tor Mu­bili em­i­grated from Zam­bia to Canada in 2000, and ar­ranged for his young daugh­ter to move to Toronto in 2002. The woman’s mother, ac­cord­ing to Mu­bili, never joined them in Canada and the mar­riage dis­solved. She died on Dec. 25, 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to Mu­bili, his late daugh­ter has three sur­viv­ing half-sis­ters in Zam­bia, and an aunt named Wendy who is fight­ing to have her body re­turned to her home­land.

The Cit­i­zen was not able to con­tact any other mem­bers of Mu­bili’s fam­ily.

Martin be­came in­volved early in the fam­ily’s time in Canada, when the deeply re­li­gious fa­ther and daugh­ter were taken in by the pas­tor’s Toronto church.

Mu­bili said he moved to Saskatchewan for work, and his daugh­ter be­gan her pur­suit of a mil­i­tary ca­reer fol­low­ing high school in 2006.

“I tried to talk her into leav­ing the church but she de­cided to stay there,” he said.

He moved again, this time to the U.S., around the time his daugh­ter was set to de­ploy to Afghanistan.

Ac­cord­ing to Mu­bili, the Cana­dian Forces re­quired an emer­gency con­tact to re­side in Canada, and with­out any other liv­ing rel­a­tives in Canada, the fam­ily de­cided to name their pas­tor, Martin.

Mu­bili never changed the pa­per­work upon the com­ple­tion of his daugh­ter’s tour.

“She was back in peace­ful Canada,” he said. “I didn’t ex­pect her to die at the time she died.”

Af­ter his daugh­ter’s death, Mu­bili spoke with Martin, but said the con­ver­sa­tion be­came strained at the men­tion of Betty’s burial ar­range­ments.

“At first he was quite re­spect­ful. I don’t know who he spoke with, but he be­came very unco-op­er­a­tive,” said Mu­bili.

Mu­bili sent Martin an of­fer to set­tle out of court Sept. 9, re­quest­ing the burial be held in Toronto within one week, that ar­range­ments be made for her aunt Wendy to at­tend the ser­vice, and that Martin sur­ren­der power of at­tor­ney, along with doc­u­ments in­clud­ing Betty’s pre­de­ploy­ment will, her last will from 2015 and her wish list. Mu­bili said he was told his daugh­ter had ex­pressed her own wishes to be buried in Zam­bia, but said he has seen no doc­u­men­ta­tion to sup­port that claim.

The set­tle­ment of­fer ex­pired Monday, and Mu­bili said he was not con­tacted by Martin, but rather by the Toronto court where ex­pe­dited pro­ceed­ings are set to com­mence on Wed­nes­day.

Mu­bili be­lieves his daugh­ter should be buried in Canada for sev­eral rea­sons aside from her mil­i­tary ser­vice.

She was made a Cana­dian cit­i­zen in 2004, and un­der Zam­bian law, would have had to ap­ply for dual cit­i­zen­ship, which she never did.

“Send­ing her re­mains to Zam­bia is like bury­ing a Cana­dian cit­i­zen in a for­eign coun­try,” Mu­bili said.

Mu­bili also wants to en­sure a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his daugh­ter’s death is com­pleted. Adding to his grief, he says he was never con­tacted by any­one from Sky­dive Petawawa. The com­pany has not re­sponded to the Cit­i­zen’s re­quests for com­ment.

OPP Const. Shawn Peever said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Betty’s death re­mains on­go­ing in con­junc­tion with the coro­ner’s of­fice.

“It is too pre­ma­ture to say crim­i­nal charges won’t be laid,” he said.

Be­tiana (Betty) Mu­bili, a Cana­dian Forces medic, died in a sky­div­ing mishap.


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