A gruesome scene played out recently in a Canadian home. A husband and father attacked his pregnant wife with a BBQ fork. The oversized fork was thrust far enough into the stomach of the eight-month pregnant woman several times, and each wound was deep enough to make contact with the unborn baby. Even as the woman was found covered in blood and first responders arrived at the bloody scene, some debated whether the attacker had committed a crime just against his wife or was the unborn baby also a victim.
Sofiane Ghazi is facing first-degree murder charges for the death of the unborn baby. His wife, Raja Ghazi is expected to recover from her injuries. The violent nature of this crime is evident, as is the fact that Sofiane targeted the unborn baby via his direct attack of his wife’s stomach. It is not clear in this case why anyone would question if there was, in fact, a crime committed against both Raja and the baby.
At the time of the attack, Raja was nearing the end of her pregnancy. This fact plays a key role in the murder charges against the husband because of the way the laws are written in Canada.
After Raja had been found covered in blood after being stabbed, she was rushed to a local hospital to deliver the baby. At eight months pregnant the baby was a month early but not early enough to even be considered a premature infant. The injured child was delivered via emergency c-section and was alive when he was delivered.
The child died a short time after delivery due to his injuries. According to a report about this case:
“Canadian law considers fetuses inside the womb not legal victims, however, according to the Criminal Code, the definition hinges on whether the child was likely to be born alive. Injuries notwithstanding, if the fetus was viable, it would qualify it to be considered a human being, explained defence lawyer Andrew Barbacki.
“The definition in the Criminal Code says that a child becomes a human being when it is completely outside the mother’s body, whether or not the umbilical cord is severed, whether it breathes and whether it has independent circulation. When it proceeds outside the body, hypothetically, it is perceived as alive,” he said.
The medical facts of this case played a role in the charges.
Prosecutor Anne Aube said a person can be charged with a homicide by causing injury to a child before or during its birth, which results in the child’s death after becoming a human being.”
It seems there is a gray area in the law as far as when the fetus technically becomes a separate victim. When the infant was attacked, he was still in utero and therefore not a victim. It is also not clear if Raja had been killed if the child would have ever been included as a second victim since there may not have been a delivery at that point.
It is shocking in this case that there is any debate as far as whether the infant was or was not a victim of murder. The unborn baby was the target of the attack, and the injuries contributed to the death. Sadly it seems there may be a larger agenda at play for those who argue against this young life not counting as a victim.
For his part in the both the attack against Raja and the death of their son, Sofiane is being held on murder charges. He is also facing “…seven other counts, including attempted murder of his girlfriend, uttering death threats, armed robbery and three of breaking his conditions.” The most serious of the charges is, of course, the murder of the little boy, who some question if he even counts as a victim.
Luckily even as some debate the victim status of the baby, the law made it clear that he was, in fact, a victim of murder. According to a report about the case by Prosecutor Anne Aube :
“In laying a homicide charge, prosecutors were guided by Sec. 223 of the Criminal Code which outlines when a baby is considered a human being.
“There are different criteria to (being considered) a human being, but essentially it’s to be alive,” Aube told reporters.
Aube says the Crown consulted jurisprudence — none exactly similar to the case currently before the courts — before proceeding with the charge.
“I think it’s very rare, it’s not often that this situation happens,” Aube said.”
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