Bulgarian AIDS trial postponed again

Tripoli- Libya (PANA) -- The trial of six Bulgarians - one doctor and five nurses - accused of contaminating 410 Libyan children with AIDS at the Benghazi paediatric hospital, 1050 km east of Tripoli, has been postponed to 22 September.
The Bulgarians have been charged along with a Palestinian doctor and nine Libyan doctors.
The People's Court hearing the case listened to a plea from the defence team, which comprises a Bulgarian barrister and several Libyan lawyers, who requested the release of their clients.
However, the prosecution called for heavy sentences against all the defendants who contaminated the 410 Libyan children and terrorised Libyan society.
Twenty-three of the children have already died.
The prosecution charged the defendants with "involuntary manslaughter and destabilisation of society and the country," a crime which carries the death penalty in Libya.
The prosecution also charged the nine Libyans with carelessness and failure to inform the parents of the contaminated children, thus causing the contamination of 19 mothers.
It rejected the statement by some defendants that they were forced into confession, saying that the investigation was conducted in pursuance of the law.
The prosecution provided in court all the evidence it had against the 16 defendants, adding that some of them committed the crime on orders from foreign intelligence services.
Before adjourning the session, the Libyan judge authorised relatives to visit the defendants.
Parents of contaminated children attended the trial Along with defendants, representatives of the local and international media, diplomats, the United Nations office in Libya and human rights organisations.
When the affair was first revealed, the then Libyan health minister Souleiman Al Ghamari, was sacked.
The children's contamination had dramatic consequences, notably child-to-mother transmission, and divorces.
Last April, at the African Summit on AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria, Libyan leader Col.
Muammar Kadhafi publicly accused foreign parties of masterminding the contamination of Libyan children to destabilise Libyan society.

18 june 2001 09:19:00

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