Lawyers for Families of HIV-positive Libyan Children Demand $4.6B
Lawyers for the families of 400 HIV-positive Libyan children, who allegedly were infected with the virus by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, have demanded a total of $4.6 billion -- about $11.6 million per child -- in compensation, Reuters/The Penninsula reports (Reuters/The Penninsula, 9/12). 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, 9/5). This is the first time since the retrial began in May that lawyers have asked for compensation for the children. The court will decide who should pay the compensation if it is awarded, according to Reuters/The Penninsula (Reuters/The Penninsula, 9/12). The Bulgarian government has rejected the compensation demands, Agence France-Presse reports. Witnesses on Tuesday said that Libyan police during a home search found alcohol and pornography in one of the medic's homes and prosecutors showed a video of the search, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 9/12). According to the Bulgarian News Agency, one of the prosecutors participated in the search (Bulgarian News Agency, 9/12). Libyan experts last month said banks containing HIV-infected blood plasma and a genetically modified form of HIV were discovered at the home of Kristiana Vulcheva, one of the nurses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/10). The trial was adjourned until Sept. 21 at the request of Osman al-Bizanti, one of the defense lawyers, who said he and another defense attorney needed time to prepare (Agence France-Presse, 9/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.