Defense Lawyer for Bulgarian Nurses Says Colleague is Delaying Start of New Trial
A lawyer defending five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician who were sentenced to death for allegedly infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV said Sunday that their retrial has been delayed because the defense has not filed an application with the Libyan Criminal Court to set a date for a new hearing, the Bulgarian News Agency reports (Bulgarian News Agency, 3/5). The six health workers were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004. The Libyan Supreme Court on Dec. 25, 2005, overturned the convictions and ordered a retrial in a lower court. The health workers say they are innocent of the charges, claiming they were forced to confess (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Egyptian lawyer Emin ad Dib on Sunday said the case cannot be assigned to a panel for reconsideration because attorney Osman Bizanti, who also is defending the health workers, failed to file an application. However, Bizanti said ad Dib was lying and is not familiar with Libyan criminal proceedings. Bizanti added that the Libyan Supreme Court in Tripoli sent the case file to its unit in Benghazi almost two weeks ago. The case then will be referred to the Court of Appellation in Benghazi and then to that city's criminal court, he said. Trayan Markovski, a Bulgarian lawyer for the nurses, agreed that the defense is not holding up the proceedings, adding that it is the authorities who begin the process. Bulgaria's former Justice Minister Anton Stankov said there is no delay, adding that the disagreement between the lawyers was personal. The criminal court might set the date for the first hearing by the end of this month, according to Bizanti (Bulgarian News Agency, 3/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.