Bulgarian Medics Suspected of Infecting Children with HIV Released from Libyan Prison and Put Under House Arrest
February 6, 2002
Six Bulgarian medical workers accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV have been released from prison to house arrest, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia, Bulgaria, said Tuesday. In a faxed statement, the ministry said the six -- one doctor and five nurses -- were moved from a Tripoli prison to a house under guard Monday. "This is good news," said Anton Stankov, Bulgaria's justice minister. The accused have been in custody since 1999.
The six Bulgarians and a Palestinian doctor have pleaded innocent to capital charges of murder and conspiracy. Prosecutors say the seven injected 393 children at Al-Fateh hospital in Benghazi, Libya, with HIV-infected blood. Twenty-three children reportedly developed AIDS and died. Nine Libyans are also on trial for negligence.
Since the trial first began in February 1999, the court has postponed its verdict several times to "review the files of evidence further." The proceedings have drawn international criticism, with Bulgaria calling it a political trial. Amnesty International has said there were "serious irregularities in . . . pretrial proceedings."
In response to Bulgarian demands for an international expert investigation and more openness, Seif el-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi, has promised to monitor the trial. The move of the six to house arrest was "possible thanks [to] the extremely active efforts of Seif el-Islam Gadhafi," the ministry said.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.