Retrial of Medical Workers Accused of Infecting Libyan Children With HIV Adjourned Until June
The retrial of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who have been imprisoned since 1999 in Libya for allegedly infecting 426 children with HIV has been adjourned until June 13, the Bulgarian News Agency reports (Bulgarian News Agency, 5/11). The six medical workers were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004 for allegedly infecting the children through contaminated blood products. The Libyan Supreme Court in December 2005 overturned the medical workers' 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 and that they were tortured by Libyan officials during interrogations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1). The retrial had begun on Thursday in Tripoli, Libya, and Judge Mahmoud Hawisa -- the presiding judge on the three-member tribunal -- said Bulgarian and French defense lawyers had not completed the defense procedure, according to the Bulgarian News Agency. He added that at the next hearing, the Bulgarian lawyers must present new documents that would allow them to plead before the Libyan court (Bulgarian News Agency, 5/11). According to Othman Bizanti, the lead defense attorney for the medical workers, the postponement "underlined the court's eagerness to better check the facts" (Sarrar, Reuters, 5/11). Hawisa denied the defense's request to release the medical workers on bail after a prosecutor said the defendants might try to leave the country (AP/Khaleej Times, 5/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.