Retrial of Bulgarian Nurses Accused of Infecting Libyan Children With HIV Might Conclude by September, Official Says
The retrial of five Bulgarian nurses, who along with a Palestinian doctor are imprisoned in Libya for allegedly infecting 426 children with HIV, might conclude by September, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Feim Chaushev said last week, Reuters AlertNet reports (Miteva, Reuters AlertNet, 4/27). The case involves six medical workers who were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004 for allegedly infecting the Libyan children through contaminated blood products. They also were ordered to pay a total of $1 million to the families of the HIV-positive children. The Libyan Supreme Court in December 2005 overturned the medical workers' convictions and ordered a retrial in a lower court. 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. The health workers say they are innocent of the charges, claiming they were forced to confess, and they have said that they were tortured by Libyan officials during interrogations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Chaushev said that a meeting last week in London between representatives from Bulgaria, the European Union, Libya, the United Kingdom and the U.S. left him hopeful that the nurses and the doctor would be released (Reuters AlertNet, 4/27). U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday called on Libya to release the nurses. "The Bulgarian nurses have been too long in captivity," Rice said, adding, "This is a humanitarian case and it is time for them to come home" (Gearan, AP/ABCNews, 4/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.