‘Truly Normal’ U.S., Libyan Relations Should Not Occur Until Release of Medical Workers Accused of Infecting Children With HIV, Editorial Says
The U.S. State Department should "make it clear" to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that "truly normal relations" with the U.S. "will be possible only after" the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor sentenced to death for allegedly intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV are released, a Boston Globe editorial says (Boston Globe, 1/7). The six medical workers in May 2004 were sentenced to death by firing squad 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. A court in Tripoli, Libya, last month convicted the health workers and sentenced them to death. 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, 1/4).
According to the editorial, although additional contributions to a fund created for the infected children "might be in order," Libyan "scapegoating should not be allowed to compound the terrible toll AIDS has already taken." The editorial says, "Diplomatic action is needed not just to reverse this travesty of justice, but also to head off the threat this case presents to the willingness of health professionals to work in foreign countries that need their skills" (Boston Globe, 1/7).