Bulgarians in court for HIV contamination

Tripoli- Libya (PANA) -- Lawyers defending six Bulgarian health personnel and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV were expected to wind-up their submission Sunday in the Libyan People's Court.
Hearing opened in Tripoli Saturday when the court rejected a defence request to postpone the case under which the foreigners allegedly infected the children with the virus that leads to the incurable AIDS.
A doctor and five nurses from Bulgaria, together with a Palestinian physician and nine Libyans are implicated in the affair which was uncovered in December 1998 by a local monthly newspaper, LA.
The presiding judge said it was impossible to postpone the trial again because the accused were arrested more than two years ago in connection with the first case of its kind in Libyan history.
He asked the defence lawyers to prepare to submit their arguments Saturday evening and Sunday.
Meanwhile, after tendering its evidence, the prosecution side prayed the court to impose heavy sentences on all the accused who contaminated 410 Libyan children, 23 of whom had already died of AIDS.
In its submission, translated into Bulgarian and Palestinian languages, the prosecution accused the 16 health workers of "voluntary homicide with intent to destabilise the Libyan government" by spreading HIV/AIDS on the orders of undisclosed foreign intelligence services.
The prosecution also accused Libyan doctors of negligence and failure to inform the children's parents thus causing the infection of 19 mothers.
Under the Libyan law, the accused face the Death penalty.
Present in court were parents of the infected children as well as the accused, local and foreign journalists, diplomats, particularly from the Bulgarian embassy in Tripoli, the UN office in Libya and representatives of human rights NGOs.
A Bulgarian advocate and several Libyan lawyers are defending the accused.
The secretary general of the Libyan general people's committee (ministry) for health, Suleiman Al Ghamari was forced to resign when the affair was revealed by the monthly newspaper.
Among the dramatic consequences of the infection was the transmission of HIV from infants to mothers and numerous divorces.
Addressing the African summit on AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria, the Libyan leader, Col.
Moammar Kadhafi, had publicly accused unnamed foreign circles of ordering the infection of these children so as to undermine the Libyan society.

17 june 2001 16:48:00

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