Attorneys for 5 Nurses Accused of Infecting Libyan Children With HIV Claims Psychological Torture Measures Were Used To Attain Confessions
Attorneys for five Bulgarian nurses accused of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV on Thursday claimed that psychological torture measures were used to attain confessions from the defendants, AFP/Mail & Guardian reports (AFP/Mail & Guardian, 7/6). The six medical workers were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004 for allegedly infecting 426 children through contaminated blood products at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya. 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. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/6). According to Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesperson Dimitar Tsanchev, the defense provided the court with a list of 211 instances of psychological torture based on the U.N.'s Istanbul Protocol, which declares psychological torture a crime (AFP/Mail & Guardian, 7/6).
Libya Gives $17M To Fight HIV/AIDS
In related news, Libya has contributed $17 million to a program to fight HIV/AIDS in Benghazi, Libya, a senior official said on Thursday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. According to Salah Abdelsalam, executive director of the Kadhafi Charitable Foundation, the $17 million is part of an agreement between the foundation and the European Union. The E.U. in September said it would provide advice and technical support on HIV/AIDS treatment -- which includes improving the Benghazi Center for Infectious Diseases and Immunology, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. An E.U. spokesperson in September said that the support was unrelated to the court case (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/6).