Slander Hearing Against Bulgarian Nurses Sentenced to Death in HIV Infection Case Postponed
A hearing in the slander trial brought against five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for allegedly intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV has been postponed until later this month, the nurses' lawyer said on Sunday, Reuters UK reports (Reuters UK, 2/11). The five nurses and a Palestinian doctor 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, in December 2006 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. A Libyan court in June 2005 acquitted nine police officers who had been charged with torturing the medical workers and forcing them to confess (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/1). Libyan police officer Juma Mishri and a doctor, Abdulmajid Alshoul, are asking for $3.9 million each in compensation for the nurses' torture accusations. The nurses' lawyer, Othman Bizanti, said they were scheduled to be questioned about the slander charges on Sunday at the start of the new criminal trial, but the Tripoli district court granted his request for more time to study the case. The court has set the questioning for Feb. 25, he said (Reuters UK, 2/11). Sofia, Bulgaria, prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov has said the country within four months will bring charges against 11 Libyan police officers for allegedly torturing the nurses into confessing. Kokinov said the charges would allow him to begin a judicial investigation, which could lead to a trial (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.