Bulgarian Medics in Libya Sentenced to Death, Set to Appeal

Politics | December 19, 2006, Tuesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 6
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Medics in Libya Sentenced to Death, Set to Appeal AIDS trial defendants Kristiyana Valcheva (L) and Palestinian doctor Ashraf (R), as well as another four Bulgarian co-defendants heard Tuesday for a second time death verdicts. Photo by Middle-East-Online

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor will appeal the death verdicts on charges of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus, the main defence lawyer said on Tuesday.

"We will launch an appeal against the verdict to the supreme court," the lawyer Osman Bizanti said.

A Libyan court reiterated the death sentences for five Bulgarian medics for deliberately infecting more than 400 children in a Benghazi hospital.

Judge Mahmoud Haouissa pronounced them guilty over these charges, but dropped the accompanying charges of illegal alcohol production and trading, adultery and foreign currency crimes.

"In the name of the people and after reviewing the documents and hearing the arguments by lawyers of both sides, the court decided on death sentences," he said. "They caused the spread of the disease that caused the death of more than one person."

The court also sentenced the defendants to pay indemnifications to the families of AIDS-stricken families.

A Bulgarian doctor, Zdravko Georgiev, who was sentenced to four years in the first trial, was now acquitted.

Defense lawyer Osman Bizanti was attacked on the way entering a Libyan court minutes ahead of the start of a session. In the court room relatives of the infected children went jubilant as the verdict was read out.

The medics have been in detention since 1999, during which time 52 of the 426 infected children have died of AIDS.

The nurses and doctor were sentenced to death in 2004, but the Supreme Court overturned the ruling after protests over the fairness of the trial.

The case has become a focus of tension between Libya and the West, where experts are united in believing that the six have been made scapegoats for a crime they did not commit.

Reports by top AIDS experts, including one by Professor Luc Montagnier, one of the discoverers of Aids, have exonerated them.

Professor Montagnier said the epidemic was triggered by poor hygiene in the hospital, and pointed out that it had begun before the six started working there, and continued after their arrest.

Now the medics have one final right of appeal against their sentences.
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» To the forumComments (6)
mo - 22 Dec 2006 // 00:36:34

"Nah, I should come here only when I'm looking for self-absorbed comment and nit-picking."

You are being unfair Jak.
Some of the regular forum excrement, made smart ass comments about it, but most people are really grown tired of it.
The whole thing is unimaginable, and most of us deal with it in different ways.
Besides there is so little to add. Everything said even on this tread has been said before by many.

Sometimes silence on a subject, especially one you are helpless to change, betrays stronger feeling than discussing it.

CINDARELLA - 21 Dec 2006 // 22:06:18

Jak,is there any points of comments?! What anyone can comment on a dark aged judicary sistem country?You/everyone who takes this subject deep in to their hearths must rest assured that ALL Bulgarians are stoned,angry at this sentence..We ALL know they are at the end of their human existence,that they are a ..zombies thanks to the stubborn Arrabs..I personaly could not bring myself writing anything at the forum that day(19th)..as everything was a such a mish-mash in my head..I could hardly read the articles about the proces,new verdict,the cheering of the children parrents, the attack on their solicitor...Everything was so bitter,so bad,we are still in shock-even we did expected it...I did cry, I wish I was rich enough to pay the blood money Libyans want,I wish I had a laser to dig a hole under their cells and just get them out on a pre-arranged plane etc..Anything,anything to get them back home!!!
It makes me feel good reading people from abroad thinking and mentioning about them!
Hope wonder will happen and they will come back one day in Bulgaria-lets hope and pray for this,ei?
P>S>I hope everyone sign's the petition (see Devil Advocate post)

Devil's Advocate - 21 Dec 2006 // 14:24:53

Take action to free the Bulgarian Medics in Lybya...

BULERICAN - 20 Dec 2006 // 06:55:04

I can give you about 400 million reasons why the nurses were convicted again.

There was no way they were not going to be convicted again regardless of evidence presented.

As soon as Libya receives those $400 million reasons they will be released.

Hostage taking for ransom is what it all boils down to.

I would hazard the thought that a sea and land blockade, with the imminent threat of invasion might coherce Mr Gaddafi to do the honorable thing in light of all the scientific evidence that clearly showed the innocence of those accused.

Gaddafi does indeed understand the use of force.

lytom - 20 Dec 2006 // 05:02:16

377 "viewers" yet no one makes a comment...?
I agree with you, jak.
The uncovering the reality of the situation in the hospital as it was seven - eight years ago should have been the priority. Education of the population about the reasons why the children were infected are like you say contrary to the government's convenience...and more...so the situation is getting worse.
Some questions remain though and the answers are locked with the nurses and the doctor.

jak - 20 Dec 2006 // 02:01:46

I came to the forum tonight expecting to see some views on what has to be the biggest story in BG at the moment. God, what was I thinking? News? On the Novinite forum? Nah, I should come here only when I'm looking for self-absorbed comment and nit-picking.

Anyway, back to the point. It's a really depressing piece of news. Evan as this situation dragged on I still hoped for a positive outcome, but now I'm starting to lose that hope. I can't imagine what life must be like for the medics, being held responsible for the deaths of these children while they were just doing their job. It's beyond belief.

The death of a child must be an unbearable pain, and society demands reasons and people to blame. The Bulgarian medics and the Palestinian doctor were handy to pin this horrific situation on and with nobody else in the frame, I think it's going to be difficult to secure their release. Can you imagine the outcry in Libya if they're let go and there's nobody to blame?

Despite all the external pressure from the US and the EU, the only real concern the Libyans have is the reaction of their own people. That's why I feel so negative about the situation. Maybe they'll be spared the death penalty, but it's hard to see them being released.

My thoughts and positive energy is directed towards them tonight, and I sincerely hope I'm wrong and that the Supreme Court frees them.

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