HIV killer says he was convicted of murder because the jury was racist

HAMILTON, Ont. -- A man convicted of killing two women by infecting them with HIV does not accept that he was responsible for their deaths and believes he was only found guilty because the jury was racist, court heard Friday.

Johnson Aziga, 54-year-old Ugandan immigrant believed to be the first person in Canada convicted of murder through HIV transmission, was convicted in April 2009 of two counts of first-degree murder as well as multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault.

The Crown is seeking to have him designated a dangerous offender, which would mean he could be jailed indefinitely. Under cross-examination Friday by Crown attorney Karen Shea, Aziga admitted that by having unprotected sex with 11 women and not telling them he was HIV positive, he exposed them to the virus. Seven of those women became infected, with two of them dying of AIDS-related cancers.

However, Aziga was adamant that while he might have been the source of their infection, he can't say for sure and therefore won't admit that.

"That's science -- chance and probability,'' he said. "I might have exposed her to HIV. I can't say I infected her... Please, can you not ask me that question again please?''

Shea reminded Aziga that he has already been convicted of causing the deaths of two women.

"That's the jury. That's subjective,'' said Aziga, who is black. "It was a very biased jury which didn't have race representation, so there was a racist part of it. The jury was racist.''

About one hour later, after the court took its morning break, Aziga denied he used the word racist. He said the jury was not representative of the region's demographic composition because no black people were on the jury.

Aziga said he had been prepared to plead guilty to the sexual assault charges because he accepts that by not telling them he was HIV positive he deprived the women of the opportunity to give informed consent to sex. But he maintained he should not have been convicted of murder.

Shea asked Aziga if he was ready to drop the appeal he plans to launch so that his victims and their families can move forward.

"Why should I?'' Aziga replied. "I cannot definitely tell you that I'm abandoning my appeal.''

At the end of her cross-examination, Shea played a video for Aziga of one of his victims, giving the police a statement while on her deathbed. The woman, who died soon after the video was shot, is seen lying in a hospital bed, extremely gaunt and unable to speak, giving her statement through small nods of her head.

After the video was played, Shea reminded Aziga that a psychiatrist who testified said he only had a superficial appreciation of the consequences of his behaviour.

"What do you want me to say?'' asked Aziga, who stared at the floor while the video was playing. "What can I say? It's tragic. It's sad.''

The Crown will give its closing submissions on June 27 and the defence's final arguments will be heard on June 29. The judge is then expected to set a date to deliver his decision.

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