State Department Reiterates Call for Libya To Free Health Care Workers Accused of Infecting Children With HIV
The State Department on Thursday reiterated its call for Libya to release five Bulgarian nurses who were sentenced to death for allegedly infecting 400 Libyan children with HIV, the Associated Press reports. "We believe that the people in Libya who have been sentenced did not receive due process, did not receive a fair trial, are being unfairly blamed for a tragedy," State Department spokesperson Adam Ereli said (Associated Press, 10/13). The nurses, along with a Palestinian physician, were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004 for allegedly infecting the children through contaminated blood products. They also were ordered to pay a total of $1 million to the families of the HIV-positive children. Many HIV/AIDS experts say that the infections likely are the result of the Libyan Health Ministry's failure to screen blood products adequately and poor sterilization practices at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya, where the children were infected. Libya's Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on Nov. 15 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/8). The case is expected to be discussed on Monday when Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov visits President Bush at the White House (Associated Press, 10/13).
IHT Examines Case History
The International Herald Tribune on Friday examined the history of the health care workers' case. "For seven years, the nurses' plight has simmered on the back burner of international politics," particularly since Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi in 2003 renounced terrorism and nuclear weapons, the Tribune reports. According to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin, negotiations to release the workers are "not moving well" (Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, 10/14).