Libyan Court Reschedules Hearing on Bulgarian Nurses Accused of Infecting Children With HIV to Dec. 25, Attorney Says
The Libyan Supreme Court has rescheduled for Dec. 25 a hearing on the appeal of five Bulgarian nurses who were sentenced to death for allegedly infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, the nurses' head attorney, Othman Bizanti, said on Monday, Reuters reports. The hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 31, 2006 (Reuters, 12/19). 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/15). The court has not officially reported the rescheduling of the hearing to Dec. 25, but Bizanti has "close ties" with the Libyan government and the court, according to Reuters (Reuters, 12/19). The change in court date also has been confirmed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BBC News, 12/17). The court in its ruling could confirm the death sentence, order a new trial or postpone its decision (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/17). The Libyan Supreme Court last month announced it was delaying until Jan. 31 a ruling on the appeal (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/15)This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.