Libya sentences medics to death - and that`s a good thing

Before I tell you why it's important for these medical workers to die, here's a little background:

In 1995, seven years after the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 the US and the UN applied sanctions and other pressures on Libya to induce Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to give up two of the suspected bombers to stand trial in a neutral country. One of these men was Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, former Libyan intelligence officer, head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines, and director of the Center for Strategic Studies in Tripoli. Gaddafi finally gave in and in early 1999 turned the two over to the Netherlands.

February 1999

About the same time and perhaps with an eye to get some leverage for future negotiations, Libya arrested nineteen busybody Bulgarian medical workers in the ancient city of Benghazi following an outbreak of HIV among 426 children being treated by them. They were charged with spreading the virus. In actual fact the children already had the virus. Thirteen of the arrested are later freed. Benghazi, with anywhere from 500,000 to almost a million population (who really knows?) is the second largest craphole in Libya after Tripoli. (see map below)

Valentina Siropulo, one of five Bulgarian nurses on death row, in Tripoli's Jdeida prison on May 9, 2005. © <br />
Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch 2005Click on Photo for images of the defendants.

February 2000

After forcing confessions from them, five Bulgarian women nurses and a Bulgarian male doctor go on trial along with a Palestinian doctor and eight Libyans on charges of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV-contaminated blood products.

Jun - Aug 2000

Bulgaria begs Libya to give the accused a fair trial, despite that the medical workers complain of being tortured into signing confessions they could not read in Arabic. Proceedings get repeatedly postponed as the loony of Libya tries to get blood money from the Bulgarians.

Human Rights News, Libya: Foreign Health Workers Describe Torture

Four of the six defendants, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, told Human Rights Watch in May that they confessed after enduring torture, including beatings, electric shock and sexual assault. Libyan officials denied all of the defendants prompt access to a lawyer, they said. In June, a Tripoli court acquitted 10 Libyan security officials accused of using torture against the defendants.

September 2000

After 13 adjournments, Libya says a verdict is imminent. Meanwhile other charges are levied against the Bulgarians such as drinking in public and engaging in extramarital sex. Does Libya have no shame? The Bulgarians and the lone Palestinian all plead not guilty and are freed on bail. Amnesty International reports "serious irregularities in... pre-trial proceedings".

January 31 2001

Megrahi was convicted of murder in the Lockerbie bombing case and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

May 2001

Bulgaria, bristling at the extortion demands of the Mad Muammar accuses Libya of holding a political trial:

Christian Science Monitor, Bulgaria, Lockerbie, and an AIDS trial in Libya

International and Bulgarian public concern about the legal proceedings were heightened April 27, when Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi claimed, at a high-profile AIDS conference in Nigeria, that the infections were part of a Western plot.

"Who charged them with this odious task?" the BBC reported him asking. "Some said it was the CIA. Others said it was the Mossad [Israeli intelligence]. They carried out an experiment on these children."

Colonel Qaddafi added that the Bulgarians will have "an international trial, like the Lockerbie trial." A Libyan intelligence officer is appealing his conviction in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. That trial was held under Scottish law at a special court convened at a former US military base in the Netherlands.

February 2002

After further adjournments at the request of defense lawyers, who say they have had great difficulty gathering necessary information, the case is passed from the Libyan People's Court in Tripoli, which deals with matters of state security, to an ordinary criminal court.
A court in Libya has said there is no evidence of a plot to undermine state security in the case of seven foreign medical workers accused of infecting children with HIV. [ BBC ]

September 2003

The French doctor who first isolated the HIV virus has said a hospital Aids epidemic in Libya was probably caused by poor hygiene, and not by the seven medical workers who are on trial on charges of deliberately spreading the disease. [ BBC ]

May 2004

Libya sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death by firing squad after convicting them Thursday of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with the AIDS virus in an experiment to find a cure. Relatives of the children shouted for joy as the sentences were handed down, but Bulgaria's justice minister called the verdicts "absurd." Some human rights groups say Libya concocted the experiment story to cover up unsafe hospital practices. [ ]

December 2004

Now comes the public extortion request:
Libya says it may review death sentences imposed on five Bulgarian nurses convicted of starting an Aids epidemic, which killed 40 children. Foreign Minister Abdelraham Shalgam said that if victims were compensated, the verdicts could be "re-examined". [ ]

January 2005

Nine Libyan policemen and a Libyan doctor go on trial accused of torturing the five Bulgarian nurses in custody. They are acquitted in June.

May 28th, 2005. Tripoli. Georgi Parvanov met the five Bulgarian nurses charged on the Libyan AIDS caseMay 2005
Georgi Parvanov met the five Bulgarian nurses charged on the Libyan AIDS case during his official visit to Libya. He talked to them for almost an hour and encouraged them convincing them the whole of Bulgaria is party to their fate. He also met with the infected children. Sofia stepped up diplomatic pressure on Muammar Gaddafi's government.

August 2005

The Bulgarian government rejects Libyan demands for "blood money" in order to secure the release of the five nurses, arguing that to pay any money would be to accept the women's guilt.

December 2005

Bulgaria and Libya agree to set up a fund for the families of the infected Libyan children. Two days later, the Libyan Supreme Court overturns the convictions and orders a retrial of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor.

People's Daily Online, Libya, Bulgaria agree on fund for Libyan HIV children

The United States, the current EU president Britain and Bulgaria, which have denounced the verdict, have all signed up to the fund, Libya's official news agency reported on Friday.

The Libyan and Bulgarian sides will meet next week to decide the precise amount of compensation as well as medical care and welfare for the HIV-infected children and their families, official said.

Libya has in the past suggested the verdict could be annulled if the children and their families receive sufficient humanitarian aid.

Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dimitar Tsanchev said on Friday that the fund was intended only to help the families of the sick children, adding that Bulgaria will not pay compensation that could be seen as an admission of the nurses' guilt.

December 28 2005

The families of hundreds of Libyan children infected with the AIDS virus are demanding 10 million dollars for each child in compensation, Bulgarian television reported Wednesday. The sum matches the compensation paid by Libya to families of the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am Am flight over Locherbie in Scotland. [ terradaily ]

This comes out to about 5.5 billion dollars in compensation. I wouldn't give 5.5 dollars to save all of Libya. Nothing personal, just doing the math on the usefulness of 5.5 million Libyan Muslims. Bulgaria rejects the extortion.

medical workers in Libya AIDS

Oct 26 2006

International scientists publish a study in Nature magazine finding that the Libyan children were infected by a strain of HIV which must have entered the hospital before the Bulgarians began working there. [ PDF ]

Which brings us to yesterday

December 19 2006

A Libyan court again sentences the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor to death for knowingly infecting children with HIV. Their lawyer says they will appeal to the Supreme Court again.
Libya has asked for 10m euros (£6.7m) compensation to be paid to each of the families of victims, suggesting the medics' death sentences could be commuted in return.

But Bulgaria has rejected the proposal, saying any payment would be seen as an admission of guilt. [ BBC ]

I believe that last sentence should be re-written 10m Euros compensation to be paid among the families of victims. If each family got 10m Euros it would bankrupt Europe.

I doubt they will get executed as longer as Gaddafi thinks he has a chance of squeezing some money out of somebody. But if they are executed, and this will be a horrible miscarriage of justice, this will hopefully discourage more dogoodniks from trying to help either Africans or Muslims. As to why I feel this way, read my post For God's Sake - Stop helping Africa.

Click on BBC Video.

Full case from the Council of Europe

Benghazi is just as far away from Libya's Capital Tripoli as it is from the Coast of Greece.

benghazi libya encarta msn
Benghazi Libya
Photo Credit: Encarta

Others blogging:

Pharyngula, Barbarity in Libya

I can sympathize with a father with a sick child, but in this case, may he continue to live in his devil-haunted world, and may no modern medical care ever come again to his entire pariah nation. No medicine, no vaccinations, no surgeons—leeches and lancets and the usual contrivances of the pre-eighteenth century world should be all they get. That is my curse on Libya. The sad thing is that many of these deluded fools would consider it a blessing.

American Thinker, The Condemned Six of Benghazi

Benghazi is an old city lying on the Mediterranean in northeast Libya. It has seen its share of conquest, mainly by the Greek, Roman and Byzantium empires, but the conquest of 7th century Muslim Arabs holds sway over the city to this day. The second capital of Libya after Tripoli, Benghazi's current appellation was derived after a 15th century man named Seedi Ghazi; a charitable soul who contributed greatly to the city and its inhabitants.

Superb Video (2:08) of the trial and commentary at Where's the Outrage?

### End of my article ###

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