Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Benghazi Six Sentenced to Death

The BBC is reporting that 5 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death a second time for deliberately infecting over 400 Libyan kids with the HIV virus. The Benghazi Six, as they came to be known, who have been in custody for 8 years, had had their initial conviction quashed by the Libyan Supreme Court on Christmas Day, last year and a re-trial ordered.

On December 7, 2006 the respected journal Nature published a new study which examined the mutation history of the HIV virus found in blood samples from the children, and found that they had likely been first infected years before the Benghazi Six arrived in Libya.

The Bulgarian foreign minister has expressed concern at the verdict and also doubts over the competence and independence of the Libyan judicial system.

The EU, which Bulgaria is set to join, has rejected the latest verdict and has called for Libyan authorities to exercise "humanitarian clemency". Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi has proposed releasing the six medics if, in return, the convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in a Scottish jail, were to be released and $5.7 billion compensation were paid to Libya for the care of the HIV-infected patients.

I will be posting my thoughts on this case later.

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