Monday, April 13, 2009

Ontario man found guilty in HIV murder trial

This is an extremely controversial case and may set a precedent in future murder cases of this kind. MediaWatch posted a story several months ago on an HIV+ woman in Quebec charged with sexual assault for hiding her status from her partner. For a little background reading, see this story from 2008.

An HIV-positive Ontario man has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of two of his sex partners in what was considered a precedent-setting trial in Canada.

The jury also convicted Johnson Aziga, 52, on 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault.

Aziga, of Hamilton, had been accused of endangering the lives of 11 women by recklessly exposing them to the virus that causes AIDS.

Seven women became infected with HIV, two have since died of AIDS-related cancer, and four tested negative.

The first-degree murder charges made this case the first of its kind in Canada.

In his instruction to jurors, Justice Thomas Lofchik said they need not find that Aziga planned and deliberately killed the two Toronto women for him to be found guilty of first-degree murder.

The deaths of S.B., 51, and H.C., 49, would automatically be first-degree murders if the jury found they were committed as the result of an aggravated sexual assault, Lofchik said.

During the six-month trial, the Crown described Aziga, a former employee of the Ministry of the Attorney General, as a callous and arrogant person who lied about his HIV status.

Prosecutors alleged that Aziga failed to tell his partners of his HIV-positive status, even though he had been aware of it since 1996 and was under public-health orders to do so.

The defence argued Aziga was depressed and ill and did not have the state of mind to deliberately endanger the lives of his sexual partners.

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