Libyan Court Delays Verdict in HIV Case
December 26, 2001
A Libyan court postponed its verdict Saturday in the case of six Bulgarians and a Palestinian, all doctors and nurses, accused of injecting 393 children with blood contaminated with HIV. It was the second time in four months that the judges postponed their verdict. They were originally scheduled to hand down a ruling in September. The long-running trial, which began in February 1999, has drawn international criticism. Critics charge that Libya may be trying to divert attention from horrendous conditions at state-run hospitals. Defense lawyer Othman el-Bexanti told the court that the infections stemmed from poor hygiene at the hospital and the reuse of syringes.
The indictment said the infection was part of a conspiracy by foreign intelligence to undermine Libya's security and its role in the Arab world and Africa. The five Bulgarian nurses, a Bulgarian doctor and a Palestinian doctor said they are not guilty of the charges of murder and conspiracy.
Bulgaria said it welcomed the court's decision to delay the verdict. "For us the delay is encouraging as it means that as of today there is no solid evidence that could warrant the most severe sentences," a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said. Justice Minister Anton Stankov, a former judge, agreed. "This is a positive sign," he said. "From my experience I know that long delays are always favorable for the defendants. We view the court's decision for a new delay as a sign of its determination to uncover the truth."
New York Times
12.23.01; Associated Press
Bulgarian Medics Suspected of Infecting Children with HIV Released from Libyan Prison and Put Under House Arrest
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.