Criminal death by stabbing in the region of Kairouan, Tunisia: A retrospective study, 2008-2018


Sarra Ben Abderrahim
Elyes Turki
Arwa Haddaji
Raja Ghzel


Introduction: Homicides by stabbing are the most common forensic form of criminal death in Tunisia. These homicides represent a type of violent death that requires investigation in a forensic setting.

Aim: To describe the epidemiological and forensic profile of stab wounds in the region of Kairouan, Tunisia

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of stab-wounds autopsy cases collected at the Forensic Department at the Ibn El Jazzar University Hospital in Kairouan over eleven years (01/01/2008 to 31/12/2018).

Results: Forty-seven cases of homicide were retained. A male predominance was observed with a sex ratio of 22 (45H/2F, 96%). The mean age of the victims was 33.3±10.84 with ages ranging from 12 to 63 years. Most victims (79%) were of rural origin, singles (62%), and daily-laborers (89%). The months that recorded the highest numbers of homicides were November and August. The most common reason for the assault was a settling-score on the street. The perpetrator was known by the victim in 90% of cases, having used a knife as a weapon in 90% of cases. The thorax was the most frequently affected area, resulting in fatal heart wounds in 28 cases.

Conclusion: Autopsy remains an essential tool for drawing up a detailed injury assessment in homicides by stabbing and determining the injury mechanism of the wounds. The comparison of the autopsy findings with the data of the judicial investigation is of great help in the legal qualification of the facts and the determination of the responsibility of the aggressors.