Family member opposes wife-killer’s appeal

Kootoo Korgak seeks early release for second-degree murder



A relative of Inusiq Sarah Akavak is shocked by Kootoo Korgak’s application for an earlier parole.

Korgak was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole until 2013 for strangling Akavak with a scarf in their eight-storey high-rise apartment in Iqaluit on Feb. 10 2000.

Korgak is serving his life sentence at Millhaven maximum-security prison in Ontario.

“I’m shocked but not surprised,” said a family member of the Sept. 17 appeal hearing.

The relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described Akavak as a gentle, loving woman who addressed everyone, even strangers, with the same affectionate word – “aakuluk.”

She plans to contact family members in Iqaluit and Kimmirut about her concerns. She’s also going to contact the Crown to voice her opposition to Korgak’s appeal and will file a second victim impact statement if needed.

“I don’t want him to get early parole. I don’t want him to get out,” she said, fighting back tears. “It feels like it just happened yesterday, and now he wants early parole. It’s really hard to take.”

Korgak, 35, has filed two notices of appeal with the Nunavut Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Appeal, seeking either a new trial, or a reduction of his parole eligibility period to 10 years.

He alleges false arrest, insufficient evidence, inadequate attention paid to his level of intoxication, and that the jury failed to take into account how Akavak provoked him.

Korgak’s handwritten appeal also says “the sentence was harsh and excessive and the [12 year] parole ineligibility period was not justified.”

Akavak’s five-year-old daughter was at home at the time of the murder. The girl now lives with family members in another Baffin Island community.

Korgak told police he killed his wife, but pleaded not guilty at trial.

A jury found him guilty, and Justice Mary Hetherington sentenced Korgak on April 11, 2001.

Court records show that Korgak, a carver and volunteer at the John Howard Society, had a previous criminal record for assaulting Akavak.

Hetherington noted this record when handing down her sentence.

“I’m concerned that the killing of Ms. Akavak was part of a pattern of spousal abuse,” Hetherington told the court. “I’m very much aware of the prevalence of spousal abuse in Nunavut [and] the sentence must be seen so as to denounce such conduct.”

Judy Chan was one of two Crown prosecutors who handled the trial.

Although no longer on the case, Chan said re-filing a victim impact statement will have little or no effect unless the statement was a reason for the appeal.

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