US & Canada

Chapel Hill Muslim murders: Craig Hicks is indicted

Craig Hicks enters the courtroom for his first appearance at the Durham County Detention Center (11 February 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption Police in Chapel Hill have not yet found evidence that Mr Hicks acted out of religious hatred

A grand jury in the US state of North Carolina has indicted a man on three counts of murder in the shootings of three young Muslim students.

Police say that Craig Hicks, 46, carried out the shootings as a result of a parking dispute.

But they have not ruled out the possibility that the killings may have been motivated by religious hatred.

At least 12 firearms were taken from Mr Hicks's home after he handed himself in to be arrested, police say.

He is reported to have described himself online as a "gun-toting" atheist.

Family members reported that Mr Hicks had previously "picked on" the married couple.

However, his wife Karen said the incident, which has drawn international condemnation, had nothing to do with religion and her husband treated everyone equally.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The murders have shocked America's Muslim community
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dental students were among those mourning the three murder victims

Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were found dead a week ago in their Chapel Hill flat near the University of North Carolina, where Mr Barakat was a dental student.

Mr Hicks, a neighbour, is scheduled to appear in court accused of murder on 4 March. He remains in jail without bail.

US President Barack Obama on Friday described the murders as "brutal and outrageous". He said that the FBI would be investigating whether any "federal laws were violated".

More than 5,000 people attended a funeral on Thursday for the three students.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A vigil in Chapel Hill for the students last week drew hundreds of people

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