Libya Proposes Plan To Release Medical Workers Sentenced to Death in HIV Infection Case
Libya has proposed a plan to release the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor sentenced to death for allegedly intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi -- the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and head of Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations - said in a statement to a Bulgarian newspaper on Monday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/29). The health 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. The European Parliament on Jan. 18 in a resolution called on European Union member states to review their trade relations with Libya and to urge Libya to release the medical workers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/23). "We have proposed a road map with solutions (satisfying) all parties: the parents, the Libyan government, the Bulgarian side, the E.U.," Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said. He added that the plan calls for "substantial compensation for the families of those affected" and the release of Libyan officer Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who is in a Scottish jail for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. According to Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, he has discussed the proposal with the foreign ministers of Germany and France. "We believe al-Megrahi is innocent in the same way you believe that your nurses are innocent," Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said, adding, "Just like you have the right to demand the return of your nurses, we have the right to insist for the return of al-Megrahi to Libya." Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said that Libya would not carry out the death sentences against the six medical workers, adding, "The case took a wrong direction from the beginning. ... There were many mistakes." The Bulgarian foreign ministry on Monday said it would not comment on Seif al-Islam Gaddafi's statement (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.