Defense Lawyers for Medical Workers Accused of Infecting Libyan Children With HIV Request HIV/AIDS Experts’ Testimony
Defense lawyers for the six medical workers accused of infecting Libyan children with HIV requested that international HIV/AIDS experts be allowed to testify about how HIV transmission to the children occurred, the Associated Press reports (El-Deeb, Associated Press, 6/20). The 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 that they were forced to confess and that they were tortured by Libyan officials during interrogations. The retrial began in May, and Judge Mahmoud Haouissa, the presiding judge on the three-member tribunal, denied the defense's request to release the medical workers on bail after a prosecutor said the defendants might try to leave the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/14). According to defense lawyers, the testimony of Libyan medical experts last week was inaccurate and contradicted forensic evidence. Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of HIV, last year testified that HIV was present in the hospital where the children allegedly contracted the virus prior to the arrival of the foreign medical workers (Associated Press, 6/20). The retrial has been adjourned until July 4, Reuters U.K. reports. Haouissa on Tuesday postponed the trial for a third time, this time at the request of defense lawyers, who said they needed more time to provide documentary evidence to the court (Sarrar, Reuters U.K., 6/20). Haouissa also agreed to a defense request that sessions be held every two weeks, instead of every week, to allow Bulgarian lawyers travel time and time to prepare for each session, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 6/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.