Surrey vigil remembers slaying of Maple Batalia

Three years after the murder of Maple Batalia, friends and family once again lit candles at Holland Park in honour of the slain Surrey teen.

The 19-year-old Simon Fraser University student was gunned down on Sept. 28, 2011 at a parkade after a late-night study session.

But Batalia’s parents said the candlelight vigil was not just for their daughter but also for other women who have lost their lives.

“We are all united,” said dad Harry Batalia. “It’s not only for Maple. It’s for all women unjustly killed. This shouldn’t happen.”

“It’s all for the community,” said mom Sarbjit, who attended the larger Take Back Surrey rally earlier Sunday. “That’s why we light the candles.”

Since Batalia’s murder, Surrey has been rocked by other high-profile killings, including the recent death of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch.

Two men have been charged in Batalia’s death. Her ex-boyfriend Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwal was charged with first-degree murder, while Gursimar Singh Bedi was charged with manslaughter with a firearm and accessory after the fact.

Dhaliwal remains in custody; Bedi was granted bail in January 2013. The men are expected to stand trial in B.C. Supreme Court in April.

“The family wants closure and justice to be served,” said family friend Rina Gill. “The wounds cannot heal. For them it’s fresh, it doesn’t seem like three years ago.”

Harry Batalia is still haunted by what-ifs.

“I wish if I knew what was happening I could have moved her to England, or somewhere,” said Harry, who had retired from his career as a mechanic since Batalia’s death.

He called for more stringent surveillance on high-risk offenders, a stronger police presence, and for his daughter’s convicted killer or killers, a life sentence with no chance of parole.

“There were eight Batalias in Canada before. Now there’s seven.”

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