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Montreal man seeking to withdraw plea for killing unborn child looks for legal help

Sofiane Ghazi, 37, is seen in this undated police handout photo.
Sofiane Ghazi, 37, is seen in this undated police handout photo. Montreal police/The Canadian Press

A Quebec man who pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his unborn child will have a legal aid lawyer study his attempt to withdraw his plea.

Sofiane Ghazi was back in court Tuesday and told the judge he’d been unable to hire a lawyer himself, so Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-François Buffoni called on legal aid to act as a “friend of the court” to assist him.

Ghazi, 39, suddenly pleaded guilty on Sept. 5 — the second day of his jury trial — to reduced charges of second-degree murder of the infant boy and aggravated assault against his wife in a July 24, 2017 attack.

READ MORE: Montreal man who pleaded guilty in killing of unborn child wants to withdraw plea

He had initially faced charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

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The woman survived the attack, but the child, delivered by emergency C-section at the hospital, had a heartbeat for several minutes before succumbing to his injuries.

But when he returned for the sentencing phase less than two weeks later, Ghazi abruptly fired his attorneys and said he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleas.

On Tuesday, a legal aid lawyer said she will study the file and let the court know what she’ll do next when the case resumes on Oct. 24.

READ MORE: Montreal man pleads guilty to murder of unborn child

In an agreed statement of facts, Ghazi admitted to stabbing his wife 19 times with a carving fork — 12 times on the left side of her stomach and seven times in the upper left thigh.

Of those, nine wounds were inflicted on the child in the womb — known as Baby Ghazi in court documents — and observed after his birth.

Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, with a minimum of 10 years to be served before becoming eligible for parole.

READ MORE: Trial begins for Montreal man charged with fatal stabbing of unborn child