Tripoli: Sudden Glimmer of Hope for the Bulgarians

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | February 10, 2005, Thursday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Tripoli: Sudden Glimmer of Hope for the Bulgarians Tripoli’s people, unlike those in Benghazi, believe that the Bulgarian nurses are innocent, lawyer Hari Haralampiev told SNA. Photo by

by Petya Bondokova

After court in Benghazi sentenced five Bulgarian nurses to death last May, all eyes are on Tripoli now.

Much has been said about the six-year trial, and still there are questions pending. Should Bulgaria expect fairness from the Supreme Court in Tripoli? What are Libyans actually thinking about the case, about the defendants? Do Tripoli's people want death for the five women?

The answers of Bulgarian lawyer Hari Haralampiev came as somewhat of a surprise.

"During our travels to Tripoli in connection to the trial, we received a very warm welcome," the solicitor said.

During one of his latest trips to Libya, he heard these stunning worlds by a local tradesman: "The Bulgarians are innocent. May Allah help them."

Haralampiev has traveled to the Libyan capital dozens of times, and there is still no word of hostility or some sort of frenzied Muslim hatred for the Bulgarian defendants. He has not forgotten the fact that the skills and solicitude of Bulgarian medics have healed many Libyan patients.

During the long years of the HIV trial, however, many shared out a different impression. Bulgarian journalists even cited the court's written motives for the death sentences as calling the nurses "poisonous snakes," and saying they were worse than Satan himself.

That image of a distant, hostile and biased Libya gives off a smell of fear to the Bulgarian community. How come the same justice system that condemned the nurses to death could possibly save them several months later?

"Benghazi and Tripoli are far apart - both geographically and spiritually," Hari Haralampiev believes. His explanation for last May's death verdict is that the jurors themselves were driven by fear. The Bulgarians were accused of infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, and exculpation would infuriate the families of the victims. They would try to lynch the judges, and the judges knew that, the Bulgarian side believes.

A very important fact for Haralampiev is that there are no affected children in Tripoli; that means an adjusted social climate.

"I have always said that I believe in justice, and that includes the Libyan justice as well. The Court of Appeals made a mistake but it could be easily made up."

It is not easy to get Hari Haralampiev talking about the possibility for the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentences - despite six years of anxiety, fright, violence, uncertainty, desperation, and harsh conditions for the nurses.

"I never think about the worst possible scenario. If I did, I wouldn't be traveling to Tripoli next month."
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