HIV trial in Libya

The HIV trial in Libya (or Bulgarian nurses affair) concerns the trials, appeals and eventual release of six foreign medical workers charged with conspiring to deliberately infect over 400 children with HIV in 1998, causing an epidemic at El-Fatih Children's Hospital in Benghazi.cite journal
last =Kovac
first =Carl
authorlink =
coauthors = Radko Khandjiev
title =Doctors face murder charges in Libya
journal =British Medical Journal
volume =322
issue =260
pages =7281
publisher =
date =2001-02-03
url =http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1119524
doi =
issn = 0959-8138
accessdate =
pmid =11157524
] The defendants were a Palestinian medical intern and five Bulgarian nurses (often termed "medics").cite press release
author =© Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch 2005
title =Photos of the Bulgarian health workers
publisher =Human Rights Watch
date =May 9, 2005
url =http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/
accessdate =
] They were first sentenced to death, then had their case remanded by Libya's highest court, and were sentenced to death again, a penalty which was upheld by Libya's highest court in early July, 2007. The Six then had their sentences commuted to life in prison by a Libyan government panel.cite web
title = Libya commutes medics' sentences
work = Reuters
publisher = CNN
date =2007-07-07
url =http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/africa/07/17/libya.medics.reut/index.html
accessdate = 2007-07-17
] They were released following a deal reached with European Union representatives on humanitarian issues (the EU did not admit the guilt of the Six). [cite web
title = HIV medics released to Bulgaria
publisher =BBC News
date =2007-07-24
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6912965.stm
accessdate = 2007-07-24
] On July 24, 2007, the five medics and the doctor were extradited to Bulgaria, where their sentences were commuted by the Bulgarian President and they were freed. Libya has since complained about the releases (although, as of July 31, not to the EU), and the issue remains ongoing. Furthermore, a controversy has arisen concerning the terms of release, which allegedly include an arms trade as well as a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2007. Both the French president and the Bulgarian president have denied that the two deals were related to the liberation of the Six, although this has been alleged by a variety of sources, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the leader of Libya.

The epidemic at El-Fatih and the subsequent trials were highly politicized and controversial. The medics say that they were forced to confess under torture and that they are innocent. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi later confirmed that Libyan investigators tortured the medics with electric shocks and threatened to target their families in order to extract the confessions, and confirmed that some of the children had been infected with HIV before the medics arrived in Libyacite web
title = Libya 'tortured' Bulgarian medics
work = Al Jazeera
publisher = BBC News
date =2007-08-09
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6939216.stm
accessdate = 2007-08-09
] . He said that the guilty verdict of the Libyan courts had been based on "conflicting reports", and said that "There is negligence, there is a disaster that took place, there is a tragedy, but it was not deliberate."

Some of the world's foremost HIV experts had written to courts and the Libyan government on the medics' behalf, blaming the epidemic on poor hygiene practices in the hospital. The epidemic is the largest documented outbreak of HIV within a hospital in history, and it was the first time AIDS became a public issue in Libya. Two of the world's foremost HIV experts, Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi, supported the medics' case, and reaction to their convictions was swift, with a number of appeals from scientific and human rights organizations, and various official condemnations of the verdict along with diplomatic initiatives.

El-Fatih epidemic in Libya and accusations

The El-Fatih epidemic is the largest documented incident of nosocomial (hospital-induced) infection of HIV in history.cite journal
quotes =
author = Perrin, Luc
coauthors = et al.
date =2001-07-10
year =
month =
title =Nosocomial Outbreak of Multiple Bloodborne Viral Infections
journal =The Journal of Infectious Diseases
volume =184
issue =
pages =369–372
doi =
id =
url =http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JID/journal/issues/v184n3/010093/010093.html
format = dead link|date=July 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=intitle%3ANosocomial+Outbreak+of+Multiple+Bloodborne+Viral+Infections&as_publication=The+Journal+of+Infectious+Diseases&as_ylo=&as_yhi=&btnG=Search Scholar search]
accessdate =
] The Libyan public was enraged and many foreign medical workers were arrested - six were eventually charged. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi initially blamed the CIA or Mossad for plotting to carry out a deadly experiment on the Libyan children [cite news
last = Charles
first = Bremner
coauthors =
title =Gaddafi faces outrage as nurses on mercy mission are sentenced to die
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =TimesOnline
date = December 20, 2006
url =http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/global/article758547.ece
accessdate =
] .

The crisis first came to light in November 1998 when Libyan "La magazine" (issue 78) published an exposé about AIDS at the hospital.cite journal
author = Author unknown
coauthors =
date =
year = 1998
month = November
title = Banned "La" magazine Aids expose
journal = former "La" magazine Benghazi, Libya
volume =
issue = 78
pages =
issn =
doi =
id =
url = http://www.webcitation.org/5Mem2Kvyz
language =
format = Reprint
accessdate = 2006-12-23
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =
] cite news
last = Bednarz
first = Dieter
coauthors = Renate Flottau, Stefan Simons, Bernhard Zand
title =Bulgarian Nurses Face Death Penalty in Libya
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =SPIEGEL Magazine English Site
date =November 9, 2005
url =http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,383903,00.html
accessdate =
] In December the Association of Libyan Writers reported over 60 cases of AIDS so far that year in Libya. "La" interviewed Sulaiman al-Ghemari, Libyan Minister for Health, who told them that most of the cases concerned children. Parents believed their children were infected through blood transfusion in Benghazi's main children's hospital.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =LA" interview Sulaiman al-Ghemari, Libyan Minister for Health, most cases among children
work =
publisher =LibyanewsandViews
date =31 December 1998
url =http://www.libyanet.com/1298nwsc.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] Although "La" magazine was shut down, it was eventually revealed that over 400 children had been infected. Libya requested and received an emergency WHO team which was sent in December and stayed through to January 1999. The WHO team issued a classified (and still unavailable) report on the situation.

In February 1999 the Bulgarian embassy announced that 23 Bulgarian specialists had been "kidnapped". A week later they were informed by Libyan authorities that “precautionary measures” had been taken against Bulgarian doctors and nurses working at the Benghazi Children’s Hospital. Most of the nurses were recruited by Bulgarian state-owned company Expomed to work at the Libyan hospital, where pay was considerably higher than they could receive at home, beginning work in February 1998. On March 7, 1999 six members of the group subjected to "precautionary measures" were formally arrested on a warrant in connection with the case of infecting children in Benghazi with HIV.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The trial in Libya 'Chronology of Events' December 14, 1998 through December 8, 2004 English version
work =
publisher = Bulgarian News Agency
date = 2005-04-18
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/02chronology.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] The group consisted of Ashraf al-Hajuj, a Palestinian intern, and Bulgarian nurses Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova. They later became widely known as "the Benghazi Six".cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =No authors listed
title =Free the Benghazi six
journal =Lancet
volume =368
issue =9550
pages =1844
publisher =
date =2006-11-25
url =
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

Libyan HIV victims

Well over 400 children were infected with HIV at the El-Fatih Children's Hospital. Some are receiving treatment in Europe. The death toll so far has surpassed 50. Parents and relatives of the children protested, and demanded death penalties to be carried out. cite web|url=http://www.ecpm-us.org/getinformed_ecpmreports_bulgarian_nurses.shtml#death |title=Seven Years in the Clutches of Libyan Authorities |last=Castel |first=Maela |date=2005-12-21 ] Libyan prime minister, Shukri Ghanem, insisted that the outcome of the trial was entirely a "judicial" matter. In a statement broadcast on Al Jazeera, Mr. Ghanem said that all efforts should now be focused on the infected children, "who are subject to a death sentence each day." cite news
title =Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem on Al Jazeera
publisher =FIA
date =2005-12-31
url =http://www.libya-watanona.com/news/n2005/dec/1205nwsc.htm
accessdate =
] The families of the infected children also demanded compensation for the actions taken by the convicted medics; figures of up to $10 million per family were mentioned.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Speculation over Libya death sentences | date=2006-12-20 | publisher=BBC | url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6196913.stm | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-23 | language = ] In July 2007, Libya announced a settlement had been reached, with $400 million going to the 426 victims' families in exchange for conversion of the nurses' sentences from death to life in prison.

The defendants

Initially, 23 foreign medical personnel were arrested, mostly Bulgarian, but 17 were released and have returned to Bulgaria. Additionally, 11 Libyan nationals were arrested and charged with the alleged crimes. Doctor Zdravko Georgiev went to Libya to see his wife (Valtcheva); subsequently he was detained and tried on the charge of illegally transacting in foreign currency. Several Libyans were also arrested and tried on non-capital offences, including Atia at-Tahir Ali al-Juma (director of the Benghazi hospital), Halifa Milyad Mohammed al-Sherif (head of hospital ward), Abdul Azis Husein Mohammed Shembesh (head of hospital ward), Abdul Menam Ahmed Mohammed al-Sherif (head of hospital ward), Idris Maatuk Mohammed al-Amari, Salim Ibrahim Suleyman Abe Garara, Mansur al-Mansur Saleh al-Mauhub, Nureddin Abdulhamid Halil Dagman, and Saad Musa Suleyman al-Amruni (assistant secretary of the health care sector in Benghazi).

Ashraf Ahmad Djum’a al-Hadjudj

Photos: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74323.jpg] [http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/images_hq/juma.jpg]

Palestine: Information with Provenance (PIWP database)cite encyclopedia
title =Ashraf Ahmad Jum’a al-Hajuj (al-Hadjudj/al-Hazouz)
encyclopedia =
volume =
pages =
publisher =Palestine: Information with Provenance (PIWP database)
date =
id =
url =http://www.corkpsc.org/db.php?auid=14504
accessdate =
]

Defendant number one in the case. In the prosecution's view he is the man in the deadly criminal ring of female nurses dedicated to a plot involving agents of foreign governments, large sums of money, illegal, adulterous sex, and illegal alcohol. He has been convicted of murdering 426 Libyan children in carrying out that plot, with the intention of destabilizing the country. He is an intern who started working at the hospital two months before news of the epidemic broke out. His family said they fled Libya because they have been portrayed by the Libyan media as "killers of innocent children" and are now in the Netherlands. Ashraf's cousin in The Palestinian Territories As'ad El-Hajouj told the Turkish Daily News, that Ashraf had lost an eye and that one of his hands had been paralyzed because of torture he endured while in prison.cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =TAYLAN BİLGİÇ
title =Appeal from a bereaved Palestinian family
work =
pages =
language =english
publisher =Turkish Daily News
date =December 23, 2006
url =http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=62503
accessdate =
] cite newsgroup
title =Palestinian under death sentence in Libya: Dr. Ashraf Ahmad El-Hajouj
author =A. Clare Brandabur
date =May 2004
newsgroup =
id =
url =http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0052424.html
accessdate =
] Ashraf al-Hadjudj was granted Bulgarian citizenship on June 19. 2007

Kristiyana Vulcheva

Photo: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74270.jpg] [http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/1.htm]

Kristiyana Vulcheva was not recruited by Expomed. She is the wife of Doctor Zdravko Georgiev who was charged along with the others but was ultimately found not guilty of all charges after having been convicted of currency violations. Purported by the prosecution to be the ringleader of the plot, it was claimed she spoke Arabic, and had a luxurious lifestyle. The other four testified that they had never seen Vulcheva before their blindfolds were taken off after their kidnapping by Libyan security, when they were first brought to the police compound in February 1999. Vulcheva was also the only one charged and convicted of illegally distilling alcohol. The defense pointed out that no device used to do this was produced at trial. She admitted in court to having seen Ashraf at the Benghazi Children's Hospital. Unlike Ashraf, she never confessed to having sexual relations with him, which is required for a conviction for the crime of adultery under Libyan law. She retracted her confession that vials were given to her by a British citizen which were used to infect the children, denying knowing any such person as 'John the Englishman' or having been paid "large sums of money" to infect the childrencite news
last =Smith
first =Craig S.
coauthors =Matthew Brunwasser
title =Libya Sentences 6 to Die in H.I.V. Case
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =New York Times
date =December 20, 2006
url =http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/20/world/middleeast/20libya.html?ex=1167454800&en=7c536420bc24c815&ei=5070
accessdate =
] After the re-imposition of the death sentence in 2006 it was announced that Vulcheva would be seeking to have Vladimir Sheitanov represent her again. Plamen Yalnuzov had replaced him as representative for the Bulgarians in 2002.

After the verdict her mother made a public plea "We are sending our plea to the British government and the victims of Lockerbie. We are well aware the issue is painful to all, but in the name of the most humane of the professions we ask them to be merciful and let Megrahi go.", referring to Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi who is serving a life sentence in Scotland for the Lockerbie bombing.cite news
title =Relatives: Trade them for Megrahi
language =english edition
publisher =Standard News
date =19 January 2007
url =http://standartnews.com/en/article.php?d=2007-01-19&article=2892
accessdate =
]

Gaddafi has repeatedly compared the two cases. After the 2006 verdict he said "Organisations like the Arab League, the non-aligned movement and the Islamic Conference said al-Megrahi was a political prisoner and international observers said elements of foreign intelligence were present at the trial... Nobody asked for his release."cite news
title =Libya's Gaddafi suggests spy link in HIV case
publisher =Reuters
date =30 December 2006
url =http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1929532006
accessdate =
]

Nasya Nenova

Photos: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74271.jpg] [http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/1.htm] "(with Kristiyana Vulcheva)"

Nasya Nenova attempted suicide. She testified that she confessed and attempted suicide because she was afraid she would be tortured again. She was interrogated alongside Ashraf and told the court they were beaten and that there was no interpreter. She did not confess to having illegal sexual relations with him. She, along with Vulcheva, are the only nurses who admitted knowing Ashraf by sight beforehand, but she said she had never spoken with him. She denied having attempted suicide out of guilt for what she had done. In court she stated that "I am not guilty on any of the counts. My conscience is clear." and "We had protection from no-one, we had no doctor. We were alone there with those men who did everything they wanted to do". She said she attempted to retract her confession on July 17, 1999, but that a Colonel Juma came and threatened to renew the torture if she persisted.

She is seeking to reappoint Vladimir Sheitanov as a replacement for defense attorneys Yalnyzov and Byzanti after the 2006 death sentence.cite news
coauthors =Alexandra Zlatinova
title =Relatives: Trade them for Megrahi
publisher =Radio Bulgaria
date =January 23, 2007
url =http://www.bnr.bg/RadioBulgaria/Emission_English/Theme_Bulgaria_And_The_World/Material/tradethem.htm
accessdate =
]

Valya Chervenyashka

Photos: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74273.jpg] [http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/3.htm] daughter's 2005 NPR interview [http://wm.npr.org/wm.npr.na-central/atc/20051111_atc_03.wma]

She is from Byala Slatina. She was recruited by Expomed company. Her husband, Emil Uzunov, in a 2003 interview with Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) said that the defence lawyer Bizanti was one of the torturers who beat the six medics during the initial interrogations. Chervenyashka had to correct the story. "I suppose my husband was too nervous and over-reacted," she said.cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title =Hope for medics in Libya
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =sofia echo
date =1 May 2003
url =http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/hope-for-medics-in-libya/id_7200/catid_5
accessdate =
]

Her daughter Antoaneta Uzunova has commented on the case."It's been terrible. ... The charges were absurd then, they remain absurd now," she said in 2005. "When I heard them being described as CIA agents ... I knew what would happen," said Uzunova, 28. "Then we found out our loved ones had been tortured in a most cruel way. It's a nightmare."cite news
coauthors =Nevyana Hadjiyska | title =Condemned Medical Workers Appeal in Libya | publisher =Associated Press | date =November 14, 2005 | url =http://www.aegis.com/news/ap/2005/AP051129.html | accessdate =
] At another time she said"Nurses from little towns in Bulgaria acting as agents of Mossad?" "It all sounds funny and absurd until you realize your mother could die for it."cite news
coauthors =Elisabeth Rosenthal
title =Time ebbing for 6 foreigners in Libya AIDS case
language =english edition
publisher =International Herald Tribune
date=October 14, 2005
url =http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/14/news/nurses.php
accessdate =
] She is seeking to reappoint Vladimir Sheitanov as a replacement for defense attorneys Yalnyzov and Byzanti after the 2006 death sentence.cite news
coauthors =Alexandra Zlatinova
title =Relatives: Trade them for Megrahi
publisher =Radio Bulgaria
date =January 23, 2007
url =http://www.bnr.bg/RadioBulgaria/Emission_English/Theme_Bulgaria_And_The_World/Material/tradethem.htm
accessdate =
]

nezhana Dimitrova

Photos: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74274.jpg] [http://hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/4.htm]

Dimitrova did not arrive at the hospital until August 10, 1998. She was recruited by Expomed. She is the only one of the condemned to have been picked up for questioning in the roundup of medical workers on December 14, 1998. She was held for two days then, and rearrested with the others on February 10, 1999.

In a handwritten 2003 declaration to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, Snezhana Dimitrova, described torture that had included electric shocks and beatings. "They tied my hands behind my back," she wrote. "Then they hung me from a door. It feels like they are stretching you from all sides. My torso was twisted and my shoulders were dislocated from their joints from time to time. The pain cannot be described. The translator was shouting, 'Confess or you will die here."'cite news
coauthors =Elisabeth Rosenthal
title =Time ebbing for 6 foreigners in Libya AIDS case
language =english edition
publisher =International Herald Tribune
date=October 14, 2005
url =http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/14/news/nurses.php
accessdate =
]

Valentina Siropulo

Photos: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74272.jpg] [http://www.hrw.org/photos/2005/libya1105/2.htm]

"“I confessed during torture with electricity. They put small wires on my toes and on my thumbs. Sometimes they put one on my thumb and another on my tongue, neck or ear. It had a hand crank to make it go. They had two kinds of machines, one with a crank and one with buttons.”"cite journal
title =Libya: Words to Deeds The Urgent Need for Human Rights Reform
journal =Words to Deeds
volume =Volume 18
issue =Number 1(E)
pages =IX. Torture
publisher =Human Rights Watch
month =January | year =2006
url =http://hrw.org/reports/2006/libya0106/9.htm#_Toc125268047
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

Zdravko Georgiev

Doctor Zdravko Georgiev the husband of Kristiana Vulcheva, came to Libya after his wife was arrested. He was charged along with the others but ultimately was found not guilty of all charges after having been once convicted of currency violations. Photo: [http://www.novinite.com/media/images/2006-12/74275.jpg]

Defense team

*Libyan defense attorney Othman al-Bizanti

*Dr Danail Beshkov, Libyan medical consultant to the defense

*Vladimir Sheitanov

*Plamen Yalnuzov

cientific studies and reports

The WHO Report of Dr. P.N. Shrestha (1999)

The World Health Organization (WHO) report (1999) describes the visit performed by the WHO team (Dr. P.N. Shrestha, Dr. A. Eleftherious and Dr. V. Giacomet) to Tripoli, Sirte and Benghazi the 28 December 1998 – 11 January 1999 while the Bulgarians were still on staff.

Montagnier/Colizzi

There have been several reports done on the HIV outbreak. The most important of these, the Final Report of Prof. Luc Montagnier and Prof. Vittorio Colizzi was commissioned by the Libyan Jamahiriya, and arranged through UNESCO. Montagnier and Colizzi had access to all the files of the infected subjects available at the Hospital as well as samples from European hospitals that had taken some of the sick children, as well as the samples at El-Fatih.

Their report concluded that the infection at the hospital resulted from poor hygiene and reuse of syringes, and that the infections began before the arrival of the nurses and doctor in 1998. Through hospital records, and the DNA sequences of the virus, they traced it to patient n.356 who was admitted 28 times between 1994–97 in Ward B, ISO and Ward A, and theorized that this patient was the probable source of the infection. The first cross-contamination occurred during that patient's 1997 admission. The report concludes that the admission records of a total of 21 of the children "definitively prove that the HIV infection in the Al-Fatih Hospital was already active in 1997" and that "Ward B was already heavily contaminated in November 1997."cite paper
author =Luc Montagnier, Vittorio Colizzi
title =Final Report of Prof. Luc Montagnier and Prof. Vittorio Colizzito Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the Nosocomial HIV infection at the Al-Fateh Hospital, Benghazi, Libya
version =
publisher =
date =Paris, 2003-04-07
url =http://www.webcitation.org/5Mempgl11
format =pdf
accessdate =2006-12-25
]

Montagnier and Colizzi both testified in person at the trial of record for the defense, and the report was submitted in evidence.cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =Katka Krosnar
title =Libyan government lets AIDS experts comment on hospital deaths
journal =
volume =327
issue =
pages =7411
publisher =BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
date =2003 August 16
url =http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1142508
doi =
id =
accessdate =
pmid =12919976
]

Final Report of Prof. Luc Montagnier and Prof. Vittorio Colizzi

Prof. Luc Montagnier (Paris, France) and Prof. Vittorio Colizzi (Rome, Italy) were appointed as international scientific consultants by the Secretary of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Libyan report

The prosecution advanced a contrary report drawn up by a Libyan expert panel. The scientific community became politically embroiled in events when the criminal court in Benghazi rejected Montagnier-Colizzi in favor of the conclusions of the Libyan experts. After the conviction, Colizzi said the scientific evidence being used against them "is so irrational it's unbelievable" and the verdict read "like a bad spy film" cite journal|title=HIV Injustice in Libya—Scapegoating Foreign Medical Professionals|journal=The New England Journal of Medicine|date=December 14, 2006|first=Elisabeth |last=Rosenthal, M.D.|coauthors=|volume=Volume 355|issue=Number 24|pages=2505–2508|id= |url=http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/355/24/2505|format=|accessdate=2007-03-13|doi=10.1056/NEJMp068241]

Final report by the Libyan National Experts Committee

The brief report (Dated December 28, 2003) is given in [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7114/extref/national_experts.pdf "Nature Journal," 443-7114] .

Summary of results:

* The HIV outbreak at the Al-Fateh Children Hospital was only observed in certain treatment units. These units, which registered concentrated infections, should have been the least susceptible as compared to other units with higher risk of outbreak.

* A distinctive point in the epidemiological study of this outbreak, is that the outbreak was localized to this particular hospital and not observed in any of the other hospitals in the city of Benghazi.

* Indwelling catheters were never imported by the hospital's administration and were not used by the medical staff in any medical treatments. Furthermore there is no evidence for the reuse of syringes or any disposable sharp objects at the said hospital. This refutes what was stated in Montagnier and Colizzi Report.

* The gene analysis of the virus causing the disease established the virus as unique and was not previously registered at the Gene Bank.

* The incidence of large number of infected children is a strange accident and is difficult to explain as a medical accident that is a result of the misuse or lack of medical instruments.

* The scientific reports submitted by foreign experts which support the assumption of a nosocomial infection, lack epidemiological evidence and scientific proof.

* Laboratory analysis of the plasma vials proved that they were contaminated because of the presence of antibodies to the HIV antigens.

* The mortality rate (10.6%) of the infected children (to date) is high and indicates strong infections. The laboratory results of the infected children conducted following their arrival in Switzerland for treatment indicated high viremia. This type of infection does not correlate to nosocomial infections or non-deliberate negligence.

* The direct cause of mortality among the infected children was HIV (AIDS) and accompanying opportunistic infections.

Conclusion:

Upon examining the scientific attached papers, medical reports and defense memoranda: with respect to the scientific view and according to known scientific practices, the National Experts Committee deems the outbreak of AIDS in the Al-Fateh Children's Hospital as not having occurred as a result of a nosocomial infection and having not resulted because of the misuse and/or the reuse of medical instruments. Furthermore, the data available to us did not contradict the possibility of a deliberate transmission of HIV to the infected children.

Dr. Amina Saleh Abusidra

Dr. Othman Al-Shibani Al-Zentani

Dr. Mohamed Dhao Ighniah

Dr. Ibrahim Abdusalam Abeid

Dr. Osama Awadh Al-Zwai

Sunday December 28, 2003

Genetic Analysis first published in "Nature"

On December 6, 2006, the influential science journal "Nature" published a new study which examined the mutation history of the HIV found in blood samples from some of the children, and concluded that a number of those children had been infected well before the six defendants arrived in Libya. In addition, a common ancestor of the strains that infected the children was already present in Libya. The study was based on statistical models of the rate of evolution in HIV derived from previous outbreaks.cite news
title= Molecular epidemiology: HIV-1 and HCV sequences from Libyan outbreak
url= http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/444836a.html
format=
publisher= Nature.com
date= 2006-12-06
accessdate=2006-12-19
] cite news
title=Molecular HIV evidence backs accused medics
url=http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7120/full/444658b.html|format=|publisher=Nature.com|date=2006-12-06|accessdate=2006-12-19
] cite news
title=The last-ditch bid to save the Tripoli Six
url=http://www.nano.org.uk/news/dec2006/latest669.htm
format=
publisher=The Herald
date=2006-12-07
accessdate=2006-12-19
] The publication was reported in newspapers world-wide and sparked an editorial campaign by "Nature" calling for the acquittal of the defendants.

The authors of the study agreed to make fully available all the data they had used so that independent confirmations could be made.

The head of the association of the HIV infected children in the country claimed that the study had no scientific value. [cite news|title=Libya Denies Newest Evidence for Bulgarian Nurses' Innocence|url=http://www.yourmailinglistprovider.com/pubarchive_show_message.php?LibyaNews+2289|format=|publisher=Novinite.com|date=2006-12-08|accessdate=2006-12-19]

Refutation of the Genetic Analysis study in The Libyan Journal of Medicine

Omar Bagasra, MD, PhD Department of Biology, South Carolina Center for Biotechnology

Mohammad Alsayari, MD South Carolina Center for Biotechnology

The Case of the Libyan HIV-1 Outbreakcite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =Omar Bagasra, Mohammad Alsayari
title =The Case of the Libyan HIV-1 Outbreak
journal = Libyan Journal of Medicine
volume =
issue =
pages =
publisher =
date =3 February 2007
url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0vJJR8p
doi =
id =AOP: 070201
accessdate =
]

Libyan Journal of Medicine: How Do We Find the Truth?

Prof Omar Bagasra and his group discussed in detail the previous published reports and asked for examination of the CD4+ T lymphocytes of the infected children to exclude the possibility of their intentional infection with HIV. [Bagasra et al. [http://www.ljm.org.ly/articles/AOP/AOP070221.pdf The Libyan HIV Outbreak: How Do We Find the Truth?] Libyan J Med, AOP:070221.]

Nobel Laureates

114 Nobel Laureates in the sciences co-signed an open letter to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi calling for a fair trial.cite journal
author =Richard J. Roberts1 and 113 fellow Nobel Laureates
date =9 November 2006
year =
month =
title =An open letter to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi
journal =Nature
volume =444
issue =146
pages =
doi =
id =
url =http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7116/full/444146a.html
format =
accessdate =
]

Torture

All of the defendants said they had been tortured. This was later confirmed by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the leader of Libya. He said that the confessions were extracted through torture with electric shocks and threats targeted at the medic's families, and confirmed that some of the children had been infected with HIV before the medics arrived in Libyacite web
title = Libya 'tortured' Bulgarian medics
work = Al Jazeera
publisher = BBC News
date =2007-08-09
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6939216.stm
accessdate = 2007-08-09
] . He said that the guilty verdict of the Libyan courts had been based on "conflicting reports", and said that:"There is negligence, there is a disaster that took place, there is a tragedy, but it was not deliberate."

Ashraf Ahmad Djum’a al-Hadjudj has reportedly lost an eye and one of his hands has been paralyzed. Snezhana Dimitrova declared that her hands were tied behind her back and she was hung from a door dislocating her shoulders, and that she was told to "confess or you will die here". Nasya Nenova testified that "We were alone there with those men who did everything they wanted to do". In May, 2005 Human Rights Watch interviewed them in Jadida prison.

Ashraf Ahmad Jum'a, the Palestinian Intern, told Human Rights Watch “We had barbaric, sadistic torture for a crime we didn’t do,” “They used electric shocks, drugs, beatings, police dogs, sleep prevention.” The interview was conducted in the presence of a prison guard. “The confession was like multiple choice, and when I gave a wrong answer they shocked me,”cite news
title =Libya: Foreign Health Workers Describe Torture
work =Human Rights News
publisher =Human Rights Watch
date =November 15, 2005
url =http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/14/libya12013.htm
accessdate =
]

Valentina Siropulo, told Human Rights Watch “I confessed during torture with electricity. They put small wires on my toes and on my thumbs. Sometimes they put one on my thumb and another on either my tongue, neck or ear,” “They had two kinds of machines, one with a crank and one with buttons.” Kristiana Valceva, said interrogators used a small machine with cables and a handle that produced electricity. “During the shocks and torture they asked me where the AIDS came from and what is your role...” She said that Libyan interrogators subjected her to electric shocks on her breasts and genitals. “My confession was all in Arabic without translation,” ... “We were ready to sign anything just to stop the torture.”cite news
title =Libya: Foreign Health Workers Describe Torture
work =Human Rights News
publisher =Human Rights Watch
date =November 15, 2005
url =http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/14/libya12013.htm
accessdate =
] cite news
title =Bulgarian engineer says he saw nurses in Libyan AIDS trial tortured
publisher =Agence France-Presse
date =May 17, 2006
url =http://www.aegis.com/NEWS/AFP/2006/AF060529.html
accessdate =
]

Lawyers for the accused medical personnel have asked for 5 million Libyan dinars (approx. 3.7M USD/3.1M EUR) as compensation. Much of the evidence is based on medical reports prepared by authorities from Bulgaria relating to marks and scars on the defendants. All of the accused Libyans deny the charges, and none of them were jailed. After several procedural delays, their trial began in late May 2005. On June 7, 2005, the 10 defendants were acquitted.cite news
title =Nightmare in Benghazi
publisher =The Guardian
date=October 31, 2006
url =http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1935469,00.html
accessdate =
]

The prisoners were sued by several Libyan police officers for slandering them with the allegations of torture. However, on May 27, 2007, the prisoners were acquitted of these charges and the plaintiffs ordered to pay the legal fees. [ [http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=h1441 Not guilty on slander case] ]

Trials

The first case against the medics was brought in the (now disbanded) People’s Court (Mahkamat al-Sha`b), a special court for crimes against the state. The trial began on February 7, 2000. The charges were: intentionally "murdering with a lethal substance (Article 371 of the Penal Code), randomly killing with the aim of attacking the security of the State (Article 202), and causing an epidemic through spreading harmful virus, leading to the death of persons (Article 305)." In addition, the Bulgarians were accused of acting contrary to Libyan customs and traditions, by engaging in non-marital sexual relations and drinking alcohol in public places, distilling alcohol, and illegally transacting in foreign currency.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The trial in Libya 'Chronology of Events' December 14, 1998 through December 8, 2004 English version
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =18 April 2005
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/02chronology.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =Michel Thieren
title =Libyan justice: medicine on death row
work =
publisher =opendemocracy.net
date =2006-12-19
url =http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=6&debateId=27&articleId=4200
format =
doi =
accessdate =
]

In April 2001 Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi made a speech at the African summit on HIV/AIDS. He told the conference that the world AIDS epidemic started when "CIA laboratories lost control over the virus which they were testing on black Haitian prisoners"cite paper
author =Nkrumah
title =Wolves in sheep's clothing-World Bank and the IMF announce a war chest to combat AIDS
version =Issue No.532
publisher =
date =3 - 9 May 2001
url =http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2001/532/in1.htm
format =html
accessdate =
] He called the HIV crisis in Benghazi "an odious crime" and questioned who was behind it."Some said it was the CIA. Others said it was the Mossad Israeli intelligence. They carried out an experiment on these children." He went on to say that the trial would be "an international trial, like the Lockerbie trial."cite paper
author =David Holley
title =Libya Conspiracy Theory Puts 6 Lives in Limbo
version =
publisher =Los Angeles Times
date =May 9, 2001
url =http://www.aegis.com/news/lt/2001/LT010501.html
format =html
accessdate =
] cite paper
author =Annie Rusinova
title =Gaddafi steps in
version =
publisher =TheSofiaEcho
date =May 3, 2001
url =http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/gaddafi-steps-in/id_1675/catid_5
format =html
accessdate =
]

First trial

The defendants all plead not guilty. The Prosecution submitted the Defendant's confessions in evidence, but the defendants all repudiated their confessions. They gave interviews and testified at trial that they were forced to confess by the use of torture.cite news
title =Pending sentences of 7 defendants in an unfair trial in Libya
work =BHC reports
publisher =Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
date =12 September 2001
url =http://www.bghelsinki.org/index.php?module=news&lg=en&id=226
accessdate =
] cite news
title =Libya: Foreign Health Workers Describe Torture
work =Human Rights News
publisher =Human Rights Watch
date =November 15, 2005
url =http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/14/libya12013.htm
accessdate =
] cite news
title =Bulgarian engineer says he saw nurses in Libyan AIDS trial tortured
publisher =Agence France-Presse
date =May 17, 2006
url =http://www.aegis.com/NEWS/AFP/2006/AF060529.html
accessdate =
] This led to charges being filed against 10 Libyan security personnel, some of whom later claimed they had also been tortured, tortured to confess that they had tortured the medics.cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The trial in Libya 'Chronology of Events' December 14, 1998 through December 8, 2004 English version
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =18 April 2005
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/02chronology.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] The guards were eventually acquitted in subsequent trials.

The prosecution described a plot to disrupt Libya by foreign secret services."To those services, child killing is nothing new. In this way they want to prevent Libya from playing an important role in the Arab World and to disturb calm in the country. The killing of the children by that virus is a means by which those secret services achieve their ends" In calling for the death penalty the prosecutor said:"These people have no moral human feelings once they have killed those children. They have sold themselves to the devil, even though the Jamahiriya has given them the right to work and live without let or hindrance." He described the epidemic as a "national catastrophe." cite web|url=http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/09hearings.htm |title=09hearings.htm |accessdate=2007-03-13 |work=The Trial In Libya |publisher=Bulgarian News Agency ]

The defendants denied being part of a conspiracy. Nenova, Chervenyashka, Siropoulo and Dimitrova testified that they did not know Vulcheva until 24 hours after what they called their "kidnapping" from Benghazi, and, according to Nenova, only after their blindfolds were taken off. Vulcheva denied knowing "John the Englishman" or "Adel the Egyptian". They all denied that they had been paid "large sums of money" to infect the children. Nenova and Vulcheva admitted that they had seen Ashraf at the Benghazi Children's Hospital, but testified that they did not communicate with him and did not perform any tasks assigned by him. cite web|url=http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/09hearings.htm |title=09hearings.htm |accessdate=2007-03-13 |work=The Trial In Libya |publisher=Bulgarian News Agency ]

The defense lawyers argued that physical evidence on all the charges was lacking, including, the blood bottles alleged to contain contaminated plasma, the device alleged to have been used by Kristiyana Vulcheva to distil alcohol, the syringes which were alleged to have been used to commit the crime, and the photos alleged to show sexual relationships between the defendants. Lawyer Sheitanov, argued that the medics had neither the time nor the conditions to carry out a conspiracy to commit the crime, since Nenova, Siropoulo and Chervenyashka started work at the children's hospital on February 17, 1998, Dimitrova on August 10, and Ashraf on August 1, 1998. cite web|url=http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/09hearings.htm |title=09hearings.htm |accessdate=2007-03-13 |work=The Trial In Libya |publisher=Bulgarian News Agency ]

A year after the trial began, the People's Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in the matter."The People's Court has the jurisdiction to pronounce itself on state security-related cases and believes itself incompetent on this matter, the spreading of the HIV virus which caused the death of more than one person is a fact, but the claims that the defendants were conspiring against the Libyan state are dubious and controversial" cite web|url=http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/09hearings.htm |title=09hearings.htm |accessdate=2007-03-13 |work=The Trial In Libya |publisher=Bulgarian News Agency ] The case was then bound over to ordinary criminal court. The People's Court was disbanded in 2005.cite journal
title =Libya: Words to Deeds The Urgent Need for Human Rights Reform
journal =Words to Deeds
volume =Volume 18
issue =Number 1(E)
pages =V. The People’s Court
publisher =Human Rights Watch
month =January | year =2006
url =http://hrw.org/reports/2006/libya0106/5.htm#_Toc125268040
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

econd trial

The second trial took place in the Benghazi Appeals Court, beginning July 8, 2003. The judges were from Derna, a town neighboring Benghazi. Judges from Tripoli and Benghazi refused to take on the case due to the high level of public sentiment in those cities. Tight security measures were in place. Police officers with submachine guns guarded the venue as relatives of the children gathered in front.

The prosecutor stated that the case documents did not reflect the real number of children. The real number of children is 429. A report by prominent AIDS experts Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi was admitted in evidence.

Prof. Luc Montagnier and Prof. Vittorio Colizzito were called to testify in person on behalf of the medics.

Professor Montagnier, the co-discoverer of AIDS, testified that the virus in the 393 children studied is a rare type found mostly in West African but also through out the continent. Montagnier told the court that the outbreak was probably started by an infected child admitted for treatment at the hospital. He said that injection was not the only possible means of infection, any other manipulation involving penetration of the skin, or even multiple use of the same oxygen mask, could have transmitted the virus. Montagnier was certain that the epidemic at the hospital started about a year before the Bulgarian nurses were hired. He said he was familiar with the case before his first visit to Libya in 1999 because he was in the process of studying the cases of hundreds of HIV-positive children from El-Fatih that were being examined or treated in hospitals in Switzerland, France and Italy. At the time he was working on these cases, some of the children did not yet have the symptoms because the incubation period of the virus is about 10 years.

Under cross examination Montagnier stated that it is possible to preserve the virus and then reactivate it if it has been held in plasma. It could be kept active for several days, depending on how it is stored. He testified that he was not aware of the existence of the technical capacity in Libya for monitoring this kind of storage, either during the epidemic or currently. Montagnier testified that during his first visit, the health authorities in Libya and the management of the Benghazi hospital showed serious concern over the infection, and that at the time they had no idea of the cause of the epidemic's spread.

When questioned by the Bulgarian defense; he affirmed that the infection could have started outside the hospital ward where the Bulgarians were working.

The Court ordered a new expert study of the case record. It received the report from the Libyan panel in December. Contrary to the findings of Prof. Luc Montagnier and Prof. Vittorio Colizzi, this panel concluded that there was no evidence that an in-hospital infection led to the AIDS outbreak at the Benghazi hospital that affected 426 children. The Libyan doctors concluded that the mass infections were more likely due to deliberate actions.

Two of the Libyan experts were brought in to testify for the prosecution, Awad Abudjadja of the Libyan national committee on AIDS and Busha Allo, head of the infectious diseases ward of the Al Jamahiriya hospital in Tripoli. They testified that the virus load in the blood of the infected children was too high, an indication that the infection was intentional.

Another Libyan virologist Salim Al-Agiri was summoned by the defense. He told the court that the infection at the Benghazi children's hospital was due to lack of prevention and poor control.

The prosecutors called for the death penalty based on Nassya Nenova's confession. Nenova admitted in writing to injecting children with contaminated products that she had gotten from the Palestinian Ashraf al-Hajuj. According to the confession she was unaware that they contained HIV, and believed she was testing a new drug. Nenova withdrew her confession before the Libyan People's Court in 2001 and told that court they were extracted under duress. Libyan law disregards confessions extracted with violence.

The prosecutors claimed that Kristiana Vulcheva acted as the mastermind. They introduced transcripts of her bank accounts and said she performed money transfers, paying the other defendants. The prosecutors averred that Vulcheva had a luxurious lifestyle and that she speaks Arabic, citing that as a further proof of her guilt.

One piece of material evidence which they said called for the death penalty were five containers of plasma protein found to contain four varieties of HIV according to a report by Awad Abudadjadja, a coordinator of the Libyan national committee on AIDS.

On May 6, 2004 the Criminal Court in Benghazi sentenced to death by firing squad; Ashraf al-Hajuj, Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova, finding them guilty for the intentional infection of 426 Libyan children with AIDS. Dr Zdravko Georgiev was found guilty of illegal transactions in foreign currency and sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of 600 dinars. He was ordered released for time served.

In public after the conviction Colizzi called the scientific evidence used against them "so irrational it's unbelievable" and said the verdict read "like a bad spy film". cite journal|title=HIV Injustice in Libya—Scapegoating Foreign Medical Professionals|journal=The New England Journal of Medicine|date=December 14, 2006|first=Elisabeth |last=Rosenthal, M.D.|coauthors=|volume=Volume 355|issue=Number 24|pages=2505–2508|id= |url=http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/355/24/2505|format=|accessdate=2007-03-13|doi=10.1056/NEJMp068241]

Retrial

The convictions were appealed to the Libyan Supreme Court which heard the case beginning on March 29, 2005. The defense urged the court to revoke the death sentences and remand the case to the lower courts for retrial. Under Libyan law, the court could not accept any new evidence, although the defense team argued that there was wrongly interpreted evidence during the court sessions so far. There were a number of delays and postponements.cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =Lamine Ghanmi
title =Libyan court postpones Bulgarian nurses ruling
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =Reuters
date =15 November 2005
url=http://www.redorbit.com/news/international/306374/libyan_court_postpones_bulgarian_nurses_ruling/index.html
accessdate =
] Eventually the Supreme Court revoked the death sentences and ordered a new trial.cite news
title =May retrial for Libya HIV medics
coauthors =
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =BBC NEWS
date =22 April 2006
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4935024.stm
accessdate =
]

Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov said the court ruling "confirmed our hope that justice in this case will prevail." President Parvanov added: "The unfair death sentences were reversed. …We hope that the swiftness and the effectiveness demonstrated by the Libyan court in the past days will help solve the case as soon as possible."

US State Department spokesman, Justin Higgins, described the decision as a "positive development since it removes the risk of the death penalty being carried out. As we have made clear before, we believe a way should be found to allow the medics to return to their home". The Council of Europe welcomed the decision and said it hoped the new trial will "comply with the internationally recognised standards of fairness and due process".

On December 19, 2006, the court pronounced its verdict in the retrial, all six were guilty, and again sentenced to death by firing squad.cite news|title =Libya to execute HIV medics|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/africa/12/19/libya.aids.ap|format=|publisher=CNN.com|date=2006-12-19|accessdate=2006-12-19] Following the verdict the court published a 100 page document on the website of 'Libya Today' newspaper explaining its decision.

[http://www.webcitation.org/5MgI1QLDH The text of the judgment and ruling issued on 19 / 12 / 2006 the Court of Appeal in Benghazi (in Arabic)]

According to the document:

The mothers of the HIV-infected children do not carry the virus

Unnaturally high levels of HIV in the children's blood testified to the fact that the infection was intentional.

The infection only spread in the specific hospital rooms that the five nurses were serving.

The research by the World Health Organization showed that the HIV infected children also had Hepatitis C, which was proof that the infection was intentional and malicious. However, co-infection with Hepatitis was emphasized as indicating poor hygiene and reuse of syringes by the WHO study authors themselves, as well as all of the other non-Libyan studies used by the defense, the opposite conclusion to this analysis by the court.

The court also said that it was not willing to accept the fact that the five were tortured, because another court has already waived this accusation, and found therefore that the defendants all confessed in full consciousness and without being subject of any violence or torture.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Libya Indicted Bulgarians on "Intentional HIV Infection" | date=30 January 2007 | publisher=Sofia News Agency | url =http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:2nk_XXPGbbIJ:novinite.com/view_news.php | work =Sofia Weekly | pages = | accessdate = 2007-02-14 | language = ]

Commutation to life sentence

On July 17, 2007, Libya's High Judicial Council, its highest judicial body, announced that the sentences would be converted to life imprisonment. Earlier that day, Libya negotiated a $400 million settlement with the families of 426 HIV victims. The Judicial Council received authority to review the case after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences one week prior to the commutation. The Judicial Council is controlled by the government and can commute sentences or grant pardons.

Terms of release

On July 24, 2007, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy officially announced that French and European representatives had obtained the extradition of the prisoners, including the Palestinian doctor, who had been granted Bulgarian citizenship a month earlier. They left Libya on a French government plane, with the EU's external affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the wife of the French President, Cécilia Sarkozy, who traveled twice to Libya. [(source: Elysée Palace, by David Martinon, the official spokesman of the French President, recorded and broadcasted on French and Bulgarian TV and radio networks).] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6896305.stm Sarkozy's wife visits HIV medics] "BBC", 13 July 2007 en icon]

During his investiture speech as President beginning of May 2007, Sarkozy had alluded to the nurses, declaring: "France will be to the sides of the Libyan nurses sic detained since 8 years... French language: "La France sera aux côtés des infirmières libyennes enfermées depuis huit ans…", [http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/089/article_51603.asp Vidéo : Premier discours du président Sarkozy] , RFI, 6 May 2007 fr icon ] "

The six prisoners were released after extensive negotiations between the EU (including Bulgaria, and particularly France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife) and Libya. As a result of the resolution of the crisis, negotiations for further restoring Libya's ties to the EU are in progress.

A 1985 prisoner-exchange agreement between Bulgaria and Libya was the legal instrument used for the transfer; technically Libya did not free the medics but rather allowed them to serve their sentences in Bulgaria. On landing in Sofia, however, they were pardoned by the Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov.

The French President said that “some humanitarian mediation” by the “friendly” government of Qatar was decisive in helping with the release of the medics. Sarkozy claimed that no additional money was given by France, Bulgaria, or the European Union in addition to the amount stipulated in the private agreement previously reached with the Libyan families cite journal
title =Compensation paid in Libya HIV case
journal =Al Jazeera
url =http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/63760DFC-7406-409C-832F-F98A1F9F9894.htm
] . He also confirmed that the release of the medics would allow him to perform an official visit to Libya to meet the Libyan president to negotiate other international issues. [ Press conference of Nicolas Sarkozy in Elysée Palace, broadcasted on all major French TV channels, on July 24 at 10:15 CEST.]

The EU believes the Six are innocent - Libya does not. Libya complained that the Six should not have been pardoned once they reached Bulgaria. Libya petitioned the Arab League, and was supported by Oman, but, as of July 31, no definitive Arab League support had been decided on and no complaint had been filed with the EU.

The EU maintains it did not pay compensation to either the infected children or their families: according to Sarkozy, Europe did not pay "the slightest financial compensation" for the medics' release. However, the European Commission committed $461 million to the Benghazi International Fund).cite journal
date = 24
year = 2007
month = July
title =Condemned Bulgarian medics freed by Libya after EU 'blood money' trade deal
journal =Lanka Business
url = http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/print.php?newsID=78105952
] Also, Bulgaria cancelled a probably-noncollectible $57 million debt owed by Libya [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6927939.stm Bulgaria 'to waive Libyan debt'] , "BBC", 2 August 2007 en icon] [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/11FC90C6-D07A-4CCA-AF71-6D53E5BFD5D1.htm Bulgaria forgives Libyan debt] , "Al Jazeera", 2 August 2007 en icon] cite journal
title =Qatar, Czech Republic And Bulgaria Paid For Compensation To Libya’S Hiv-Infected Children
url =http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/qatar-czech-republic-and-bulgaria-paid-for-compensation-to-libyas-hiv-infected-children/id_24097/catid_68
] ), and humanitarian funds were made available for both the infected's treatment and for a new children's hospital in Benghazi. Saif Gaddafi declared that the humanitarian aid to the Benghazi hospital amounted to "not less than 300 million euros," which was denied by the French who declared that it was largely over-estimated Jean-Yves Nau and Nathalie Nougayrède, [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3212,36-942548@51-915550,0.html Quelle aide française pour l'hôpital de Benghazi ?] , "Le Monde", 7 August 2007 fr icon] . The Benghazi International Fund received from abroad 600 million Libyan dinars and Libya received promises of equipment and personnel to train of Libyan medics over a period of five years.

Fuincluding market access for Libyan goods, assistance with border management and scholarships for Libyan students in the EU.

Initially Kadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, contradicted Sarkozy's claim that no additional agreements had been made. In exchange for the release of the nurses, he said Nicolas Sarkozy not only signed with Gaddafi security, health care and immigration pacts (assistance with border management and scholarships for Libyan students in the EU David Charter and Adam Sage, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2148351.ece Sarkozy under fire for nuclear deal to secure nurses’ release] , "The Times", 27 July 2007 en icon] ) : according to Libyan sources cited by the Agence France-Presse, a $230 million (168 million euros) MILAN antitank missile sale was also part of the release deal [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/module_chrono/0,11-0@2-3210,32-941736@51-915550,0.html Les coulisses de la libération des infirmières bulgares] , "Le Monde", 3 August 2007 fr icon] . The contract would be the first made by Libya since 2004, and would have been negotiated with MBDA, a subsidiary of EADS. Furthermore, a cooperation agreement on civil nuclear technology was signed by Sarkozy during his visit David Charter and Adam Sage, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2148351.ece Sarkozy under fire for nuclear deal to secure nurses’ release] , "The Times", 27 July 2007 en icon] . The latter was criticized by Greenpeace and by Noël Mamère, a Green deputy David Charter and Adam Sage, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2148351.ece Sarkozy under fire for nuclear deal to secure nurses’ release] , "The Times", 27 July 2007 en icon] . Sarkozy responded that Arab states should be trusted with nuclear technology to prevent any "war of civilizations," while his chief of staff, Claude Guéant, declared that "a country that respects international rules can obtain civilian nuclear energy ."

Saif al-Islam announced the existence of these deals in an interview to "Le Monde" Natalie Nougayrède, [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3212,36-940890@51-915550,0.html Le fils du colonel Kadhafi détaille un contrat d'armement entre Paris et Tripoli] , "Le Monde", 1st August 2007 fr icon] . EADS also confirmed it after Saif Gaddafi's declarations, contradicting the official position of the Elysée Palace Natalie Nougayrède, [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3212,36-942547@51-915550,0.html France-Libye : les zones d'ombre de la libération des infirmières bulgares] , "Le Monde", 8 August 2007 fr icon] . Another 128 millions euros contract would have been signed, according to Tripoli, with EADS for a TETRA radio system . The Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party (PCF) criticized a "state affair" and a "barter" with a "rogue state" [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3210,36-941475,0.html Tripoli annonce un contrat d'armement avec la France, l'Elysée dans l'embarras] , "Le Monde", 2 August 2007 fr icon] . The leader of the PS, François Hollande, requested the opening of a parliamentary investigation Molly Moore, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/03/AR2007080301950.html France's Sarkozy Off to a Running Start] , "Washington Post", August 4, 2007 en icon] . The Parliamentary Commission is expected to be created in October 2007. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Commission, as she had played an "important role" in the release of the Six according to Pierre Moscovici (PS) "France-Libye: la gauche réclame des explications à Cécilia Sarkozy," in "Libération" (with Agence France-Presse), 14 August 2007 ( [http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/politiques/272294.FR.php read here] fr icon] . Arnaud Montebourg had criticized her role, accusing her of having fast-tracked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, while Sarkozy himself praised her wife .

He also linked the release of the Bulgarian nurses and of the Palestinian physician to bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom concerning the extradition of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted in the Lockerbie bombing case .

Following the controversy lifted by Saif Gaddafi's revelations concerning the arms deal, Sarkozy claimed that the arms contract was not connected to the liberation of the Six, declaring: ""The contract was not linked to the release of the nurses. What do they criticise me for? Getting contracts? Creating jobs for French workers?" Henry Samuel, [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/07/wfra107.xml Nicolas Sarkozy defends Libyan arms deal] , "The Telegraph", 8 August 2007 en icon] .

Furthermore, Saif al-Gaddafi retracted his August 1 statements three days later, claiming that the arms deal and the agreement for the delivery of a nuclear reactor were not linked to the liberation of the Bulgarian nurses [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-942080@51-915550,0.html Infirmières bulgares : l'achat d'armes à la France "n'est pas une contrepartie", selon le fils de Kadhafi] , "Le Monde", 4 August 2007 fr icon] . He stated that the deal with EADS had started 18 months ago, information that was confirmed by EADS .

Despite these denegations, it is commonally accepted that the arms deal would not have been possible if the Six hadn't been freed , as Europe generally would have sided with Bulgaria on this issue. The head of the Bulgarian intelligence, General Kirtcho Kirov, declared that important arms contracts and oil contracts were at stake.

Additionally, President Sarkozy pledged to sell Libya three civil nuclear power stations as part of a package of trade and assistance that will boost the role of French companies in the oil-rich country. During his visit to Libya on July 25, 2007, Sarkozy signed an agreement of cooperation on civil nuclear technology. He decided to build three civil nuclear power stations to the Libyan state Christopher Dickey, [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20079136/site/newsweek/ The Politics of Blackmail - Libya's 'Immoral' Games with the West] , "Newsweek", 1st August 2007 en icon] Christophe Châtelot, [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3212,36-940907@51-915550,0.html Le chef du renseignement bulgare évoque un écheveau de contacts secrets] , "Le Monde", 1st August 2007 fr icon] . According to Paris, the nuclear power stations are meant for desalinization of sea water [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6919248.stm Germans attack Libya nuclear deal] , BBC, July 2007 en icon] , but "Le Monde" has pointed out that the Libyans quickly bypassed any reference to desalinization . This deal was criticized by the French left-wing and also by German governmental sources, including Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler, Greens leader Reinhard Buetikofer and SPD deputy Ulrich Kelber . And during Tony Blair's visit end of May 2007, the British group BP signed a natural gas contract for 900 million dollars .

Furthermore, "Le Parisien" alleged on 13 August 2007 that the agreement concerning nuclear technologies did not concern desalinization of sea water, but focused on particular on the ERP third-generation nuclear reactor, of a worth of $3 billion Marc Lomazzi, "Nucléaire: les dessous de l'accord entre la France et la Libye", "Le Parisien", 13 August 2007 [http://www.leparisien.fr/search/article.html?ID=DISPLAY1_0&index=1&DI_INDEX=1&docid=0708138285886.xml@LPA&titre='Nucl%E9aire%20:%20les%20dessous%20de%20l%20accord%20entre%20la%20France%20et%20la%20Libye'] fr icon] . The Parisian newspaper cited Philippe Delaune, the deputy of the deputy director of international affairs of the CEA atomic agency, which is the main share-holder of Areva, the firm which products ERP reactors . Although the French President denied any relationship between the deal with Areva and the liberation of the Six, "Le Parisien" points out a troubling chronology: Areva was called to present its products to Libya end of June 2007, a short time before the release of the Six . The French Socialist Party, through the voice of Jean-Louis Bianco, declared that this deal was "geopolitically irresponsible. " The German government also denounced the agreement. Through Siemens, they detain 34% of the shares of Areva's subsidiary in charge of building the ERP (Areva NP) .

These information from "Le Parisien" were immediately denied by Areva [http://www.lexpress.fr/info/quotidien/actu.asp?id=13344 Areva: "pas de négociations sur l'EPR avec la Libye"] , "L'Express" with Reuters, 13 August 2007 fr icon] . Areva's spokesman did admit that negotiations had taken place early June 2007, but that no particular technology transfer had been agreed upon . Furthermore, Philippe Delaune, the CEA's spokesman, added that in any case, any transfer concerning the ERP technology would take at least ten or fifteen years .

While Areva did admit that general negotiations had taken place, Nicolas Sarkozy formally dismissed all of the story, claiming it was "false. [http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/news/world/20070813-france-libya-nuclear-deal-sarkozy-denial-tripoli-EPR-reactor.html Sarkozy denies Libya arms deal] , "France 24" (with Agence France-Presse), 13 August 2007 en icon] [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-943907@51-915550,0.html Nicolas Sarkozy et Areva démentent tout projet de vente de réacteur EPR à la Libye] , "Le Monde" (with Reuters), 13 August 2007 fr icon ] " Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov also claimed that the arms and nuclear agreements were not related to the release of the nurses [http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=166672&version=1&template_id=37&parent_id=17 Report on reactor for Libyans ‘false’] , "Gulf Times" (with Agence France-Presse), 14 August 2007 en icon] .

Movie

In August, 2007, shortly after the essential resolution of the crisis, it was announced that a movie, tentatively entitled "The Benghazi Six" was planned for filming. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6934903.stm Film to be made about HIV medics] , "BBC", 7 August 2007 en icon ]

Diplomatic front

There have been a number of diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

One of Gaddafi's sons Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, has admitted at least some Libyan responsibility. On December 24, 2005, it was announced that Libya, Bulgaria, the EU, and the US had agreed on the creation of a fund, which may have helped to resolve the matter. In the end, Saif al-Islam was heavily credited with the resolution of the crisis.

The Bulgarian independent daily newspaper "Novinar" published a set of 12 cartoons mocking Gaddafi, Libyan justice, and the Bulgarian government's quiet diplomacy vis-à-vis the HIV trial. Publication of the cartoons caused outrage in Tripoli, and the Libyan ambassador in Sofia delivered a protest note to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. In response, the Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister, Feim Chaushev, and President Parvanov apologized and distanced themselves from the "Novinar" cartoons.

The six medics were again sentenced to death.cite news
title =Libya sentences medics to death
publisher =bbc.co.uk
date =19 December 2006
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6192599.stm
accessdate =
] EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini quickly expressed his shock at the verdict and called for the decision to be reviewed, as was done by the Bulgarian government and international organizations, including Amnesty International, the World Medical Association and the International Council of Nurses.cite news
title =In quotes: Reaction to Libya HIV trial verdict
publisher =bbc.co.uk
date =19 December 2006
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6192883.stm
accessdate =
]

The Libyan foreign ministry said international response to the convictions and death sentences was disrespectful to the Libyan people. The foreign ministry also said (as reported by the Washington Post) "The political stance expressed by the Bulgarian government, the EU countries and others is a clear bias to [wards] certain values that are likely to trigger wars, conflicts and cause enmity between religions and civilizations."

International: official positions

The trials have been condemned by The European Union, individual EU member nations, the United States and Russia.

The African Union (AU) Commission has expressed concern at what it calls "politicization" of the case. According to the Angola Press the AU Commission said all of Africa was monitoring the case with great interest, and that attempts to politicize the matter must stop forthwith. The AU also expressed solidarity with the families of the victims. It said people should not aggravate the tragic case, where 56 of the infected children have already succumbed to AIDS.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=AU expresses concern over "politicisation" of Libyan medics` case | date=2006-01-01 | publisher= | url =http://www.angolapress-angop.ao/noticia-e.asp?ID=498504 | work =Angola Press | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-01 | language = ]

According to Sofia News Agency, The Arab League "asked all countries not to politicize the issue, as the accused have still one more chance for appealing their sentence. The League also underlined the need to be compassionate to the HIV-infected Libyan children in order to curb the consequences of this painful human catastrophe".

The Council of Europe passed Recommendation 1726 in 2005 titled "Serious human rights violations in Libya – Inhuman treatment of Bulgarian medical staff". The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly severely condemned this verdict which is contrary to the fundamental values they uphold....The Parliamentary Assembly...categorically condemns the barbaric way in which they were treated in the first few months after their arrest and the torture and ill-treatment to which they were subjected.

European Commission opposed the position of the Libyan court decision to sentence to death.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Alexander Yakovenko, Spokesman:"According to our information, the Bulgarian medics' lawyers intend to appeal this decision in the Supreme" "Court of Libya. For our part, we hope that an additional trial in Tripoli," "in which all the facts and the opinions of people involved in this case will be comprehensively examined""cite web
coauthors =
title =foreign media timeline
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/11positions.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
]

The United States State Department did not agree with the decision of the court.

NGOs: Official Positions

Many non-governmental organizations took a stand against the sentences.

In a statement on May 6, 2004, a statement from Amnesty International was released: "We are shocked by the imposition of these death sentences and call for the Libyan authorities to immediately quash them. cite press release
title =Libya: Quash death sentences against foreign medical professionals
publisher =Amnesty International
date =6 May 2004
url =http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE190092004
accessdate =
]

The ICN President Christine Hancock wrote: “The sentence is unjust, unwarranted and unacceptable.” “We implore the Libyan government to rectify this dreadful situation as quickly as possible. The health workers are being unfairly held responsible for a tragedy which has caused outrage in Libya.”cite press release
title =International Council of Nurses Condemns Libyan Death Sentence
publisher =ICN
date =8 May 2004
url =http://www.icn.ch/PR04_04.htm
accessdate =
]

Dr. Yoram Blachar, chairman of the WMA Council, said after a meeting of the WMA wrote: "I appeal to the Libyan authorities to quash this sentence. It is completely unjustified."cite press release
title =WMA Appeals to Libya to Lift Death Sentences
publisher =
date =15 May 2004
url =http://www.wma.net/e/press/2004_9.htm
accessdate =
]

Many newspapers and journals came out against the sentences. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5037/is_200611/ai_n18324939 Bad blood: Libya's cruel trial of medical staff] November 2, 2006, The Economist] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/28/AR2006102800653.html A Travesty in Libya A new cure for AIDS: Shoot foreigners] Sunday, October 29, 2006 Page B06 Washington Post] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1935469,00.html Nightmare in Benghazi] 2006-10-31 Guardian] cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =Editorial
title =Libya's travesty
journal =Nature
volume =443
issue =
pages =245–246
publisher = Nature
date =2006-09-21
url = http://www.webcitation.org/5N0puypXN
doi =10.1038/443245b
id =
accessdate =
] [ [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/329/7462/409 Quiet diplomacy is not enough] 2004-08-14 British Medical Journal. Accessed July 25, 2007]

Development of media coverage

In Libya, "La" magazine (issue 78) published its exposé about AIDS at the hospital, but was shut down. Initial Bulgarian coverage focused on a scandal in the wake of the arrests when the Bulgarian news journal "24 hours" of February 24th published an investigation of money laundering at Expomed entitled "How we lost USD 5,048, 292 in Libya".cite web
title =scandal with the eight Bulgarian medical staff uncovered USD 5,048,292 spent by state-owned company "Expomed"
work =Bulgarian Press on Corruption Weekly Review
publisher =online.bg
date=February 20-26 1999
url =http://www.online.bg/coalition2000/eng/preview/Summary-W2.html
accessdate =
] The trial received almost no public attention outside Libya and Bulgaria until an account by Eric Favereau was published in the French paper Libération on June 2 2000 entitled "Libye : Six Bulgares accusés d’être à l’origine de 393 cas de sida Assassins d’enfants ou boucs émissaires de la Libye ? " (Libya: six Bulgarians accused of causing 392 Aids cases - Child killers or Libya's Scapegoats?).cite web
coauthors =
title =foreign media timeline
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/10foreignmedia.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] cite newsgroup
title =Libye : Six Bulgares accusés d’être à l’origine de 393 cas de sida
author =
date =
newsgroup =survivreausida.net
id =
url =http://survivreausida.net/a4061-libye-six-bulgares-accuses-d-etre-a-l-origi.html
accessdate =
] cite news
coauthors =Eric Favereau
title =Libye : Six Bulgares accusés d’être à l’origine de 393 cas de sida
work =
pages =
language =French
publisher =Libération
date =June 2 2002
url =http://www.liberation.fr/php/pages/pageSearchArchives.php
accessdate =
] Libya had requested help and France, Italy and Switzerland had received some of the sick children. Eighty children were sent to France in May 1999. The Swiss paper Neue Zuercher Zeitung followed with the article “Bulgarians as Scapegoats” July 11, 2000 and the Washington Times picked up the story.cite web
coauthors =
title =foreign media timeline
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/10foreignmedia.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] In April 2001 the trial gained brief attention after Muammar Gaddafi gave his speech at the African summit on HIV/AIDS implicating the CIA.cite paper
author =David Holley, Times Staff Writer
title =Libya Conspiracy Theory Puts 6 Lives in Limbo
version =
publisher =Los Angeles Times
date =May 9, 2001
url =http://www.aegis.com/news/lt/2001/LT010501.html
format =html
accessdate =
] cite paper
author =Annie Rusinova
title =Gaddafi steps in
version =
publisher =TheSofiaEcho
date =May 3, 2001
url =http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/gaddafi-steps-in/id_1675/catid_5
format =html
accessdate =
] The US-sponsored Radio Free Europe countered with a conspiracy theory of its own, employing former KGB agent Viktor Suvorov. Suvorov claimed that the theory about CIA creating HIV and letting it loose in Africa had been invented by the KGB and was still promoted by Russian secret services, who were controlling Libya.cite web
coauthors =
title =foreign media timeline
work =
publisher =Bulgarian News Agency
date =
url =http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/10foreignmedia.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
] This theory was widely published throughout the Balkans in Serbian and Greek newspaper articles. On July 2, 2001 the Washington Post ran a story by Peter Finn, interviewing Prof. Luc Perrin (who had been involved with the children sent to France. Perrin dismissed the allegations of a deliberate infection, and WHO spokesperson Melinda Henry told the Post that members of WHO missions in Libya in 1998 and 1999 felt that further study was necessary, but they “were not invited back.”

The case continued to receive minor attention until the conclusion of the second trial and the imposition of the death penalty on May 6, 2004, which provoked a major reaction, and worldwide television coverage.

Timeline

* 27 January 2007: The Bulgarian newspaper 24 Часа reports that Gaddafi's elder son, Saif al-Gaddafi expressed hope that the death sentence could be halted and that "a satisfactory solution could be found."cite news | first= | last= | coauthors=KAPKA TODOROVA | title=В Либия настоях да освободят сестрите | date=2007-01-27 | publisher= | url =http://www.24chasa.bg/Default.asp?statid=42254&rubr=0&izd=1&fsize=&swidth=800&tr=1&im=01&id=27&iy=2007 | work =24 Часа | pages = | accessdate = | language = Bulgarian ]

* 15 February 2007: Dimitar Ignatov, a 25-year-old US citizen with Bulgarian origins, who launched two phony web pages for gathering money in support of Libya-jailed nurses, was arrested in a joint raid conducted by policemen from both countries. The money obtained in the scam had gone to his personal account in a Chicago bank.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Bulgarian "Raises" E-Money for Death-Sentenced Nurses | date=15 February 2007 | publisher=novinite.com | url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0eA0yX6 | work =Sofia Weekly ]

* 17 February 2007: Lawyer Hari Haralampiev told Darik News that this was the last possible deadline for appealing the sentence before the Supreme Cassation Court of Libya. The court will have to hold the first hearing on the appeal within two months. The court's decision on the case will be the final one in the trial. The Supreme Court may reconfirm or waive the sentences. If they decide to nod the death sentences, then the case would go to the Supreme Court Council where the sentences can be either confirmed, changed or abolished.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Nurses' Defense Appeals Death Sentences in Libya | date=17 February 2007 | publisher=novinite.com | url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0dVAx8e | work =Sofia Weekly ]

* 21 February 2007: Another "entrepreneur" decides to cash in on the "You Are Not Alone" campaign. A One-Lev shop in the southwestern town of Blagoevgrad has started selling the ribbons, despite the fact that they have only been distributed for free since the beginning of the campaign.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Bulgarians Try to Cash in On Libya-Jailed Nurses Again | date=21 February 2007 | publisher=novinite.com | url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0f03Lzr | work =Sofia Weekly ]

* 25 February 2007: The nurses and medic plead innocent to charges of slandering Libyan officers Djuma Misheri and Madjit Shol at a hearing in Criminal Court in Tripoli. The nurses once again pointed them out as their torturers on 1999. They told the court, "Everything that the two officers claim is a contemptible lie," and showed the scars the men left on their bodies. The prosecutor demanded the maximum three-year prison sentence for the nurses in the slander case.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Libya-Jailed Bulgarian Nurses, Palestinian Plead Innocent | date=25 February 2007 | publisher=novinite.com | url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0cVN1Cl | work =Sofia Weekly ]

* 28 February 2007: Libyan authorities appeal the court's decision to acquit Bulgarian doctor Zdravko Georgiev.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Bulgarian Doctor's Acquittal Appealed in Libya | date=28 February 2007 | publisher=novinite.com | url =http://www.webcitation.org/5N0b6OwpF | work =Sofia Weekly ]

* 9 March 2007: Bulgarian media quote Libyan Foreign Affairs Committee Secretary Suleiman Shahoumi as saying in Libya's General People's Congress that the medics would not be executed even if the court upheld their sentence.cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =Mike Rosen-Molina
title =Libya death row medics will not be executed: report
journal =Jurist Legal News and Research
volume =
issue =
pages =
publisher =University of Pittsburgh School of Law
date =2007 March 9
url =http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/03/libya-death-row-medics-will-not-be.php
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

* 15 March 2007: Tottenham Hotspur and Bulgarian international footballer, Dimitar Berbatov, says he will wear a "You Are Not Alone" armband during Spurs' matches. [ [http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/articles/allabouttheteam.html Spurs player, Dimitar Berbatov, sports Bulgarian campaign armband] ]

* 16 March 2007: Bulgarian journalist Georgi Gotev proposes that Bulgarian parties and voters co-operate to elect the nurses as Bulgaria's representatives to the European Parliament to pressure both Libya and the EU.cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Shame Qaddafi, free the nurses
journal = The Economist
volume =
issue =
pages =
publisher =
date =2007 March 16
url = http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8846392
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

* 27 May 2007: The prisoners were acquitted of slandering Libyan police officers when they said they were tortured (see section on torture above).

*17 July 2007: The Benghazi International Fund had started handing out to families the US $1 million per affected child that would spare the medics' lives, BBC Tripoli correspondent Rana Jawad reported. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6902700.stm/ "Libya starts handout of HIV funds" BBC News, 17 July 2007] .Retrieved on 2007-07-28.]

* 17 July 2007: Libya commutes death sentences to life imprisonment.

* 24 July 2007: Libya extradited all of the Medics. [http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FRANCE_LIBYA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT AP Story]

* 24 July 2007: Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov pardoned the six medics 45 minutes after they touched down on home soil at Sofia's international airport. "Certain of their innocence, in accordance with the powers vested in him, President Parvanov pardons the medics," foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin said after welcoming the medics back. [ [http://www.novinite.com/ "Bulgarian president pardons medics" – Sofia News Agency, 24 July 2007] .Retrieved on 2007-07-28.]

* 28 July 2007: Libyan officials said they had sent a memo to the Arab League calling for action against Sofia – and a protest to the EU – because Bulgaria's decision to pardon the medics has angered the Tripoli. The BBC reported that the Libyan authorities had expected the freed medics to serve their life terms in Bulgarian jails, Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi said, [ [http://www.novinite.com/ "Libya: Bulgaria Betrayed Us ", Sofia News Agency, 28 July 2007] .Retrieved on 2007-07-28] adding that the deal to free the medics had involved money put up by the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Qatar, while France had promised to provide equipment for the Benghazi hospital, where the infections had taken place – and training for Libyan medical staff over five years. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6920542.stm/ "Libya details medic release deal" – BBC News, 28 July 2007] .Retrieved on 2007-07-28]

* 10 August 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the leader of Libya admitted that the confessions were extracted through torture with electric shocks and threats targeted at the medic's families, and confirmed that some of the children had been infected with HIV before the medics arrived in Libyacite web
title = Libya 'tortured' Bulgarian medics
work = Al Jazeera
publisher = BBC News
date =2007-08-09
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6939216.stm
accessdate = 2007-08-09
] . He said that the guilty verdict of the Libyan courts had been based on "conflicting reports", and said that:"There is negligence, there is a disaster that took place, there is a tragedy, but it was not deliberate."

Further timelines

See [http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/02chronology.htm] and [http://www.bulgaria-embassy.org/WebPage/!/The%20trial%20in%20Libya%20-%20CHRONOLOGY%20OF%20EVENTS%20(May%206,%202004%20%20by%20BTA).htm] and [http://ummahnewslinks.com/2006/12/19/timeline-bulgarian-medics-trial-in-libya.aspx]

References

External links

* [http://tashev.org/podpiskalist.cfm Petition in Support of The Bulgarian Nurses, Latest News on the trial]
* [http://i-p-o.org/koechler-EU-Lockerbie-Bulgaria-nr14Feb07.htm The European-Libyan controversy over of the handling of the case of Pan Am flight 103 by the Scottish and the Benghazi HIV case by the Libyan judiciary: Clash between legal cultures or political power game? 14 February 2007.] Statement by Dr. Hans Köchler, UN observer at the Lockerbie trial
* Scans of November 1998 issue 78 of banned 'La' magazine "AIDS in our children"-"Who is responsible?"
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeRR12fR Cover] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeRvnTJu p.1]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeRziAiT p.2] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeS7ieaQ p.3]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeSIQay0 p.4] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeSQ4c3s p.5]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeShjSHh p.6] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeT6b2JG p.7]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTD0xqR p.8] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTG5e25 p.9]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTOBJ40 p.10] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTZYkRt p.11]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTc0uTM p.12] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTeIeWs p.13]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTgTPKb p.14] [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTj2QW7 p.15]
* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MeTr25z3 p.16]

* [http://www.webcitation.org/5MgI1QLDH The text of the judgment and ruling issued on 19 / 12 / 2006 the Court of Appeal in Benghazi] with list of victims
* [http://www.almanara.org/files/nasheed/nashedialjameel.rm montage Musical photo-montage] of the Libyan children with AIDS and images of families protesting at the trial in real media format.
* [http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/index-e.html The Trial in Libya] - extensive chronology up to December, 2004
* [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06860095.htm Chronology up to December 6, 2006, by Reuters]
* [http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/action/letters/2005/libya/l_form.html Form to send an email to Libyan officials]
* [http://declanbutler.info/blog/libya.htm The HIV Libya case resource page, October 2006 by Declan Butler, senior reporter at Nature]
* [http://declanbutler.info/blog/ Updates on the HIV trial in Libya, by Declan Butler, senior reporter at Nature]
* [http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/aidsmedicslibya/index.html Nature special focus on Libya case]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5182317638126553942&q=Injection+libya Documentary by Mickey Grant about the Bulgarian Nurses in Libya]
* [http://titan.medhyg.ch/mh/infos/article.php3?sid=1434 Letter from Luc Montagnier to Muammar al-Qaddafi after the death sentence]
* [http://www.jeuneafrique.com/gabarits/articleJAI_online.asp?art_cle=LIN16054lucmoelletn0 Interview with the professor Luc Montagnier]
* [http://www.europarl.eu.int/meetdocs/committees/afet/20020909/472918fr.pdf European parliament report on human rights in Libya] (PDF format, 32 KB)
* [http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/lby-summary-eng report2004 Amnesty International report on human rights in Libya]
* [http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/lby-summary-eng report2005 Amnesty International on Libya, including the health workers]
* [http://www.phrusa.org/campaigns/action_alerts/libya.html Physicians for Human Rights campaign] - lobbying on behalf of the accused
* [http://www.nishand.org/ The Bulgarian Medics Solidarity Project] - activist group in Britain lobbying to free the accused
* [http://www.bta.bg/site/libya/en/05defendants.htm Pictures and profiles of the defendants]


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