Times runs out for Palestinian and four Bulgarians accused of infecting Libyan children with AIDS
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is expected to request on Monday the support of the United States on behalf of four Bulgarian nurses who face the death penalty in Libya for intentionally infecting over 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus. One Palestinian doctor has also been accused, and faces death by firing squad if convicted.
The group was arrested taken into custody in 1999 by Libyan forces after being charged with infection of the children, with whom they came in contact with at the Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi where they worked. The group has also been charged with being Mossad agents of Israel’s intelligence service.
The Libyan Supreme Court will reportedly hear the defendants’ final appeals on November 15, according to the New York Times.
The nurses have claimed that since their apprehension in 1999, Libyan authorities tortured them in attempt to elicit confessions from them.
Experts are expected to testify on behalf of the accused that poor sanitary conditions and lack of knowledge about the AIDS virus was the cause of the children’s death, not the acts of the hospital staff.
Though the US has brought up the matter with Libya, many feel that if the accused were American, Italian or British, international attention and support would have been far greater. Ivailo Kalfin, the Bulgarian foreign minister, told reporters, "It is one thing when Britain raises an issue; it is another when Bulgaria raises it."
The four nurses relocated to Libya for financial reasons in the 1990's, while the Palestinian doctor has resided in Libya with his family since 1967.