Timeline: Bulgarian Medics' Trial in Libya

Views on BG | December 25, 2005, Sunday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

1998
Health professionals from the Benghazi Children's Hospital informed the Bulgarian Embassy that Bulgarians Sevda Yablanska and Snezhana Dimitrova have been detained by the Libyan authorities. Daily interrogations with Bulgarian medical workers were also conducted.

1999
February 10. 23 Bulgarian health professionals working at the Benghazi hospital went missing, 17 of them were released.
February 18. The Embassy in Tripoli officially informed of "precautionary measures" having been taken against several Bulgarian doctors and nurses working at the Benghazi Children's Hospital.

2000
January. The Embassy in Tripoli informed that the six Bulgarians will probably be tried.

2002
February 4. The medics were accommodated in a house under guard. After the medics were moved from the Libyan prison Judeyda, they were practically in non-prison conditions.

February 17. The case was downgraded by a judge. The medics had faced trial in a people's court in Libya, which is reserved for cases that allegedly threaten state security or involves acts of sabotage. The case is sent to the prosecutor's office. They now faced a criminal court, which carries potentially lighter sentences.

March 22. The medics in Libya replaced their Bulgarian lawyer Vladimir Sheytanov with Plamen Yalnuzov.

In the meantime Libya arrests some 20 people, who allegedly tortured the Bulgarians.

2003
September 3. Renowned microbiologist Vittorio Collizi testified in favor of the Bulgarian defendants in Libya's HIV case. The discoverer of the HIV virus, Prof. Luc Montaigner answered affirmatively the questions of the defense in favor of the six Bulgarian medics. Montaigner has reiterated many times the conclusions of the report he had compiled on the case together with colleague microbiologist Vittorio Collizi at a commission of the Libyan state. According to the report, the HIV infection, which the Bulgarians have been accused of, started at the Al-Fatah hospital in Benghazi as early as 1997 before the Bulgarians took medical jobs there. He stressed the contamination continued to spread after February 1999 when the accused medics were arrested

September. The civil prosecutor for families of the HIV-infected children demanded that USD 4 B be paid in damages, a claim totalling around half of Bulgaria's foreign debt. According to the lawyer of the Libyan parents a total of 426 children have been infected with HIV, which makes over USD 10 M in damages per child. The civil prosecutor involved the claim with the principle of equality of the people around the world and drew parallels with the Lockerbie bombing.

October 13. The lawyers of the Bulgarians insisted there were gaps and incoherence in the indictment as well as omissions in the documents used by the prosecution. The civil prosecutors reduced the claim for damages to 15 million Libyan dinars per each child payable straight away "since the affected families are in urgent need of money."


2004
At the beginning of 2004 the team of 12 Libyan doctors rejected the report by Montaigner and Collizi. The Libyan report states that the infection is a result of deliberate actions. It also questions the claims that the Bulgarian medics have been tortured into making confessions.

In the middle of January the European Union urged the Libyan side to drop the charges against the six Bulgarian medics in a demarche to the Libyan government handed by the ambassadors of the UK and the Netherlands.

The charges are unfounded and we hope that the Libyan Government will undertake the necessary steps for the Bulgarians' soon release, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Robert Bradtke said on February 11.

In March Amnesty International called on the Libyan authorities to take a number of immediate steps to demonstrate commitment to sustained human rights protection. In a memorandum Amnesty urged the adoption of concrete measures to bring both law and practice in Libya fully into compliance with international human rights standards.

Final pleadings were made on February 16, 2004.

May 6.Benghazi Criminal Court delivered death sentences against the six Bulgarian medics accused of deliberately infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Zdravko Georgiev, one of the Bulgarian defendants in the HIV trial in Libya, has been released from prison. He has not been sentenced to death but to four years in prison, a sentence, which he has already served during the investigation and the hearings of the court.

May 7. Foreign Minister Solomon Passy in a statement at the United Nations called for the support of the organization over the Libyan trial.

July 7. Foreign Minister Passy announced that the doctor Zdravko Georgiev's verdict has been appealed.

August 26: Us rightist activist Jesse Jackson visit the nurses in the Tripoli jail.

September 15: Bulgaria's nurses transferred to separate room in the Tripoli prison.

December 5. Libya is ready to discuss the possible repealing of the death sentences of the five Bulgarian nurses but only after Bulgaria offers financial compensations, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam was cited as saying.

December 9. Libya will not execute the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor sentenced to death earlier this year for infecting more than 400 children with HIV in 1998, according to a son of the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. The New York Times reported Seif al-Islam as saying that "no one is going to execute anyone. "

December 16. The relatives of Bulgaria's six HIV trial medics in Libya left for the African country.

December 29. A Benghazi court postponed the hearing of one of the two civil indemnity claims, filed by the families of infected Libyan children in the HIV trial against the Bulgarian medics there. Relatives of the two twin sisters, who died of AIDS, are demanding 10 million Libyan dinars.

2005
January 2. The Swiss Ambassador to Tripoli and his wife visited the five Bulgarian nurses in the Judeyda prison.

January 5. Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka has talked the case of death sentenced foreign medics in Libya, while conferring with host Colonel Muammar Qaddafi in Tripoli. Belka told journalists later he held out hope for a negotiated settlement in the case of five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya over charges of deliberately spreading AIDS.

January 18. The five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death have signed a joint claim against the Libyan officers who allegedly had tortured them to extract false confessions.

January 25. The trial against the two Libyan officers who had allegedly tortured the Bulgarian nurses in Libya to extract false confessions was postponed for March 22.


January 30. Serbian President Boris Tadic and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi have discussed the case of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya.

February 11.The US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East William Burns has urged Libya to free the five Bulgarian nurses on the lingered HIV trial.

February 13.A Southern Libyan court rescheduled for March 20 the hearing of the two civil indemnity claims, filed by families of infected Libyan children in the HIV trial against the Bulgarian medics there.

March 9.Members of the European Parliament have voiced determination for further support to Bulgaria's five convicted nurses in Libya.

March 18.EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn backed Sofia's attempts to secure the release of five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya for deliberate infection of hundreds of children with the AIDS virus.

March 20.A Southern Libyan court has delayed for the third time the hearing of the two civil indemnity claims, filed by families of infected Libyan children in the HIV trial against the Bulgarian medics there.

March 22.The Tripoli court postponed again the hearing of the case against ten Libyans accused of torturing Bulgarian nurses on death row into making confessions.

March 23.Muammar Qaddafi pledged he will not release the Bulgarian nurses on the death row in Libya, snubbing international calls for their freedom.

March 24. Tripoli officially denied Muammar Qaddafi has pledged not to release the Bulgarian nurses on the death row in Libya, as claimed by Wednesday's reports from the Arab League summit in Algiers.

March 25.Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has invited Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov on an official visit to the African country. The invitation was passed to the Bulgarian head- of -state by the Libyan ambassador in Sofia.

March 28.UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed his hopes that the hearing of the appeal of the Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya will bring good news to the entire Bulgarian nation.
March 29.Libya's Supreme Court is to deliver its judgement on the case with the Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death on May 31. The five-member panel of the Supreme Cassation Court convened Tuesday for the appeal hearing against the death sentences on the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor for allegedly infecting with AIDS more than 400 Libyan children.

More than 50 people gathered in Sofia in front of the Libyan embassy in a vigil organized in support of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in the African country.

March 30.Libya's Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office has urged the Supreme Cassation Court to refer the AIDS case against five Bulgarian medics back to the court of Benghazi, according to Bulgarian diplomatic sources in Tripoli.

Libya should improve its human rights and justice record if it wants to start a new course of development, as indicated, according to US Deputy Secretary Robert B. Zoellick.

April 1.A representative of the world Lawyers without Borders organization and an envoy from the French Embassy in Tripoli have been allowed to meet the convicted Bulgarian nurses.


April 7.Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has declared readiness to leave for Libya and meet its Revolution Leader and other state officials.

April 12. Libyan medics and security officials, linked to the leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, have deliberately caused the AIDS outbreak at a Benghazi children's hospital, according to an anonymous letter, posted at a Libyan oppositionary Internet site.

April 17. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz offered Washington's assistance in bringing the trial of the Bulgarian medics in Libya to a successful outcome.

April 19. Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov has extended an invitation for a tete-a-tete meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in the hope to "sort out important issues of bilateral concern".

April 23. Bulgaria's Economy Minister Milko Kovachev left on a two-day working visit to Libya, Ministry officials announced.

April 26. The Tripoli court postponed for May 10 the case against nine Libyan policemen and a doctor accused of torturing Bulgarian nurses on death row into making confessions.

May 7. Seif al-Islam-headed charitable foundation, which is monitoring the trial against the Bulgarian nurses in Libya, announced the number of HIV-infected children, who died at the Benghazi hospital, has reached fifty.

May 10. A criminal court in Libya has adjourned for a fourth time in a row the case against ten Libyan officers facing charges of using torture on Bulgarian medics on trial there to extract tortures.

May 17. A Libyan court has adjourned the trial of nine Libyan policemen and a military physician charged with torturing Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to extract confessions.

May 22. Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov will leave on a two-day official visit to Libya on May 27, just days before a Libyan court rules on the appeal of five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for infecting children with HIV.

May 24. А Tripoli court will deliver June 7 its judgment on the case against ten Libyans accused of torturing death-sentenced Bulgarian nurses into making confessions.

May 25. Physicians for Human Rights seeks the immediate and unconditional release of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician sentenced to death in May 2004 on charges of intentionally infecting 426 children with HIV in Benghazi.

A European Commissioner has put up a plea for the release of the Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death before the Libyan authorities. The EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner paid a surprising visit to Tripoli, where she met with Libya's Prime Minister Shukri Ghanim and later with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

May 26. From the visit of Benita Ferrero-Waldner to Tripoli, it has become clear that Libya is looking for an acceptable solution of the case with the Bulgarian nurses there, said Solomon Passy, Bulgaria's foreign minister. The EU Commissioner Ferrero Waldner talked to Passy telling him the results from her meetings with the country's leader Muammar Qaddafi and the Prime Minister Shukri Ghanim.

May 27. Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov arrived in the Libyan capital to face at the airport a rally of more than 100 parents and relatives of AIDS-infected children. Libyan leader and his Bulgarian guest talked for over an hour right after the arrival of President Parvanov in Tripoli. Later the same evening there was an official dinner hosted by Muammar Qaddafi. The second meeting of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov and the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has been canceled. On Saturday Parvanov visited the five imprisoned Bulgarian nurses, sentenced to death for infecting Libyan children with HIV/AIDS virus.

May 28. The visit of the Bulgarian President to Great Jamahiriya is in line with the two countries ordinary and natural relations which are old and strong, Libya's Foreign Minister Abd al-Rahman Shalgam said at his meeting with the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov. We would not accept focusing on five and ignoring the five hundreds, Shalgam said, referring to the case of the Bulgarian medics sentenced to death.

May 30.The trial against the Bulgarian medics remains a key precondition for Libya's ambitions to improve relations with the European Union and join the EU's "Barcelona" trade partnership with Mediterranean rim nations, Bulgaria's foreign minister said. His comment came a day ahead of Tripoli's Supreme Court session on the appeal of the five Bulgarian nurses on death row.

Tension is reaching a breaking point a day before Tripoli's Supreme Court rules on the appeal of the five Bulgarian nurses on death row, said doctor Zdravko Georgiev, the only released Bulgarian convict in the HIV trial.

May 31.Libya will take steps to improve the conditions of living of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor in the Judeyda prison in Tripoli. This emerged on the day when the Supreme Court delayed again its ruling on the death sentences appeals by the medics. Judge Ali al-Allush said the case had been postponed to November 15, but gave no further details.

June1.Washington-based human rights group Physicians for Human Rights slammed as "especially troubling" the decision of the Libyan Supreme Court to delay its ruling on the appeal of the death-sentenced Bulgarians.

Five nurses and a doctor sentenced to death by firing squad in Libya for deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus could be spared after diplomatic intervention by the European Union, The Times wrote after Tripoli's supreme court postponed until November 15 an appeal against the sentences against the Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor.

Libyan TV station Al-Jamahiriya has hosted a 45-min discussion panel on the AIDS trial against five Bulgarian medics and a Palestinian doctor on the death row in Libya.

June 2. Bulgaria's five nurses who are appealing against their death sentences in Libya have called on the Bulgarian government to report regularly on their steps to aiding Libya's HIV-infected children.

June 7.A Tripoli court acquitted Tuesday ten Libyans accused of torturing death-sentenced Bulgarian nurses into making confessions. The defendants - nine Libyan security officers and a doctor - were charged with torturing the nurses to extract confessions that they deliberately infected 426 children with the HIV virus that causes AIDS in a Benghazi hospital.

Bulgarian death-sentenced nurses will appeal the Tuesday ruling of Libyan Supreme Court, acquitting ten police officers, charged with torturing the medics into making confessions.

June 14. The families of the HIV-infected Libyan children have ruled out negotiations over the fate of the five Bulgarian convicts and insist that they are executed. "Faced with the tragedy of our children and the negligence of the world, we insist that the death sentences against the convicts be carried out and will not accept any negotiations, compromises or deals in this case," reads a letter of the families sent to AFP section in Tripoli.

August 23. Bulgaria's new justice minister once again underlined that the state will not meet Libyan demands for "blood money" in order to secure the release of five nurses held since 1999. Minister Petkanov said in an interview for the bTV channel that the nurses are innocent. The new minister vowed that he would work for the release of the five women.

August 24. The envoys of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) did not hold a planned meeting with Bulgaria's jailed nurses in Libya. Tony Lloyd and Valerie Clamer are on the last day of a visit to Libya.

August 25. Bulgaria is close to the establishment of a non-governmental organization to help the HIV infected Libyan children. The news was broken by Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov, who also said that there is a complete action plan for the release and assistance of the unfairly sentenced Bulgarian nurses in Libya.

September 6. The European Commission moved forward in its efforts to help HIV sufferers in Libya and to assist the five Bulgarian nurses, jailed in the African country. Although EC said that actions undertaken are not connected to its efforts for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctors, experts say that it would certainly have an effect on the trial. EC and the Libyan authorities have agreed to immediately to implement urgent policy advice and technical support to the Libyan health authorities and upgrade the capacity of the Benghazi Centre for Infectious Diseases and Immunology to international standards.

US Senator Richard Lugar, chair of US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, vowed to work for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya. Senator Lugar promised to appeal for solidarity with the cause of the nurses, Stanimir Ilchev, MP from Simeon II national Movement, said.


September 12.The international non-government organization "Lawyers without borders" staged a protest in front the Libyan embassy in Paris. The peaceful protest was organized in protest against Tripoli's refusal to allow its representatives access to the trial against the Bulgarian nurses.

October 2. The civil lawsuit against the five jailed Bulgarians in Libya was postponed for December 27. The trial was initiated by the relatives of a young HIV victim. The family say that their child was infected by the Bulgarians, and demand to receive a compensation of almost 12 million US dollars.

October 6.Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has conferred on phone with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the presidential administration said. He has informed him about the recently established civil association, including prominent Bulgarian artists, sportsmen, etc. , who pledged to work for strengthening bilateral relations with Libya.

A draft resolution was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, calling on the Libyan authorities to release the death-sentenced Bulgarian medics and a Palestinian doctor and secure a fair trial.

October 15.A Benghazi court postponed for December 17 the hearing of the second civil indemnity claim, filed by families of infected Libyan children in the HIV trial against five Bulgarian nurses.

October 17.The US has confirmed its unwavering stance that the Bulgarian medics on a death row in Libya should be set free. This was said by US President George W. Bush after conferring with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, for the first time in the White House.

Bulgarian culture activists formed a Union for civil rights defence and honour of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya.

October 18. Tripoli rejected the appeal of US President George Bush for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses facing the death penalty in Libya after being found guilty of deliberately infecting with HIV/AIDS some 426 children in a Benghazi hospital. Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam rejected the call by US President George Bush for Tripoli to spare the lives of the Bulgarian nurses.

October 19. Russia supports strongly the stance of Bulgarian government on the innocence of the five medics sentenced to death in Libya. Russia's Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov has assured Bulgarian Parliamentary Speaker Georgi Pirinski that he will put this issue forward during his upcoming international contacts.

October 20. Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov made an apparent attempt to temper Tripoli's rejection of the appeal of US President George Bush for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses facing the death penalty in Libya. There are also positive messages that we get from Libya, President Georgi Parvanov said at the end of his visit to the United States. The Bulgarian head of states expects to see a revival in talks with Tripoli and real actions at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

November 2. Bulgaria remains adamant in its refusal to pay indemnities for the freedom of the Bulgarian defendants in Lybia's HIV trial. Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin commented the publication in the Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, which claimed that Libya is ready to release the nurses should Sofia pay compensation to special fund and a charitable organisation. He said that Bulgaria is part of the EU humanitarian plan aimed at helping Libya deal with the AIDS disaster in Benghazi.

November 3. Over the next few days Bulgaria will witness a decisive intervention by the EU in the nurses' case in Libya, MEP Geoffrey van Orden, Rapporteur for Bulgaria in the European Parliament, told Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin.

November 6. Libya has offered to spare the lives of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on death row if the UK hands over the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, according to The Sunday Times. Tripoli has told British and US diplomats that it will free the medical staff on a death row if Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is allowed to serve the remainder of his life sentence in Libya, the newspaper reported.

November 7. Bulgarian Justice Minister Georgi Petkanov has rejected reports over a deal providing for payment to gain the freedom of Bulgarian medics on a death row in Libya. The trial against the five Bulgarian nurses jailed in Libya has become a political trial, German Spiegel magazine wrote.

November 9. Ahead of the November 15 session of the Libyan Supreme Court that has to decide on the appeal of the death sentences imposed on the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor, the French Le Figaro published an article named "Libya: five Bulgarian nurses hostages of Qaddafi.

November 11. Bulgarian-born singer Sylvie Vartan called for mobilization of the support for the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya. Vartan explained that she had been deeply touched by the faith of the six. These people should be freed or at least subjected to a fair trial, she claimed.

The European Union (EU) and the US are ready to pay for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Tripoli, the former Libyan Justice Minister, now Libyan Ambassador in London Muhammad Al-Zaway said in an interview for BBC.

If the confessions of Bulgarian medics on a death row were extracted by torture, this fact makes those confessions void, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi told CNN. As quoted by Bulgarian media, the Libyan leader stated, however, that the final decision is not at his discretion, but at the hands of the Libyan court.

November 12. A Libyan newspaper has said that there had been secret talks on the fate of Bulgaria's nurses in Libya, but negotiations failed. Libya Today was cited as saying that Libyan, Bulgarian and British officials were holding secret talks to resolve the crisis. After Bulgaria refused to pay compensations to the HIV victims involved in the trial, the dialogue was frozen, the report has said, as cited by Bulgarian media.

November 15: Libya's Supreme Court postponed the hearing for January 31, 2006.


December 17: Media broke the news that the hearing of the appeal of the death sentences has been rescheduled for December 25 - Christmas.
Views on BG » Be a reporter: Write and send your article
Advertisement
Advertisement
Expats.bg All Are Welcome! Join Now!
Please, log in to post a comment.
» To the forumComments (0)
Bulgaria news Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria