Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
Libya to Pronounce Final Verdicts on Bulgarian Nurses HIV Case June 20
  16 June 2007
Libya's Supreme Court is highly probable to confirm the death sentence of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor, who are charged with infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV, Seif al Islam, the son of Muammar Qaddafi said on Saturday.
It is also possible that the court rules on the case on the upcoming Wednesday hearing, when the judges will have to decide whether to accept or reject defendants' appeal. Al Islam's statement surprised both the defense lawyers and the EU observers on the case as according to the defense lawyer Osman Bizanti the court will hold at least another two sittings before announcing its final decision
After the court pronounces the sentence, Libya will immediately start working on measures for solving the case, al Islam said, and added that the measures will have to satisfy all the families of the Libyan children with AIDS, implying once again that the Supreme Court might indeed confirm the death verdicts of the six medics. An agreement must be reached with the children's families so that the court repeals the death sentence, Seif al Islam believes.
This is the final court instance, which will confirm, repeal the death sentence or will pronounce a different one, but it cannot order retrial. This means that the court's decision will be final.
In case of confirming the sentence, there is a possibility that the six medics' lawyers to ask the Libyan Supreme Judiciary Council to reprieve the defendants.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor - who deny charges. They say the medics deliberately injected the children with contaminated blood as part of an experiment to find an AIDS cure.
The six have already spent more than eight years in prison awaiting courts' decision in the travesty HIV trial against them.
The case has become a focus of tension between Libya and the West, where experts are united in believing that the six have been made scapegoats for a crime they did not commit.
Reports by top AIDS experts, including one by Professor Luc Montagnier, one of the discoverers of AIDS, and Professor Vittorio Colizzi, have exonerated them.
Professor Montagnier said the epidemic was probably caused by poor hygiene in the hospital, and pointed out that it had begun before the six started working there, and continued after their arrest.
In May Vittorio Colizzi stated that the infection came from the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through migration of already infected people, mainly pregnant women.
Bush Urges Libya To Release Nurses Sentenced To Death In HIV Infection Case
14 Jun 2007
President Bush on Monday after a meeting with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov urged Libya to release the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for allegedly intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/11).
The nurses and a Palestinian doctor in May 2004 were sentenced to death by firing squad for allegedly infecting 426 children through contaminated blood products at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya. They also were ordered to pay a total of $1 million to the families of the HIV-positive children. The Libyan Supreme Court in December 2005 overturned the medical workers' convictions and ordered a retrial in a lower court. A court in Tripoli, Libya, in December 2006 convicted the health workers and sentenced them to death (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/29).
The U.S. "strongly support[s] the release of the Bulgarian nurses in Libya," Bush said, adding that their release is a "high priority" for the U.S. Bush added that the U.S. with the European Union is "contributing to a fund to provide assistance to the Libyan children ... and to their families" (Bohan/Ilieva, Reuters, 6/11). Libya on Monday called on Bush to stay out of the case and allow the country to reach a solution with the European Union. "We hope that Bush and others will leave us to continue negotiations with the concerned parties so as to find a solution to this crisis," Abdelati Labidi, Libya's junior foreign minister, said (Reuters UK, 6/11).
E.U. Commissioner, German Foreign Minister Attempt To Expedite Release of Medical Workers
In related news, E.U. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday traveled to Libya in an attempt to expedite the release of the medical workers, Reuters AlertNet reports.
Ferrero-Waldner said the medical workers "can rest assured" that she will "continue to work with all [her] powers to achieve their liberation -- the sooner the better." She added, "We do see a window of opportunity for a solution, and it is our intention to make sure that it doesn't close before we can use it." Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi -- head of the Gaddafi Development Foundation and son of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi -- on Sunday indicated that efforts to free the medical workers might be coming to a close after a "positive" initiative from the European Union (Reuters AlertNet, 6/11).
"There are positive initiatives from the European side," Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi said, adding, "We are in the last mile of a marathon race, and we are in the most difficult stage." He added, "The outcomes will be good. We hope that that is the beginning of the end of this problem."
Libya has suggested that it would free the nurses if compensation to the families of the HIV-positive children is paid. The country has demanded 10 million euros, or about $13 million, for each child's family, Reuters reports. Bulgaria has rejected the demand, saying it would be an admission of guilt, but has agreed to fund the treatment for the children at European hospitals (Sarrar, Reuters, 6/10). The European Union has donated 2.5 million euros, or about $3.3 million, to the fund, Reuters AlertNet reports (Reuters AlertNet, 6/11). Steinmeier and Ferrero-Waldner during their visit said that they hope to secure a speedy resolution to the situation and that they support an E.U. offer of medical treatment for the children, according to Driss Lagha, chair of the Association for the Families of the HIV-Infected Children. He added, "We also discussed the issue of compensation, but this is still under negotiation" (Reuters, 6/10).
"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top