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Libya again - letter in "Time"

Libya again - letter in "Time"

10/13/2006 9:33:01 AM
Foreign workers at risk in Libya

Sir, We are deeply concerned over the fate of six medical workers who have been in a Libyan prison since 1998 on charges of deliberately infecting more than 400 children with HIV, more than 40 of whom have died of Aids.
The charge is against five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who worked in the al-Fateh Hospital in Benghazi. President Gaddafi alleged in 2001 that the HIV infection of the Libyan children was a plot by the CIA and Mossad. In May 2004 the six workers were sentenced to death, but a supreme court questioned the conviction after international protests.

The Libyan authorities invited Professor Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of HIV at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, and Professor Vittorio Colizzi, an Aids and infectious diseases authority at Rome University, to report on the outbreak of HIV infection. They concluded that many of the children contracted HIV before the accused staff arrived and that many of the children were also infected with hepatitis B and C, which pointed to poor medical practice and hygiene at the hospital. The report stated that all the evidence indicated that the six accused were innocent of the alleged crime.

However, the court dismissed this report in favour of an investigation by Libyan doctors whose impartiality and scientific credentials must be in doubt. A retrial was ordered and the verdict is expected next month. The fear is that all six will be condemned to death.

We ask the medical and scientific authorities of the United Nations, Arab countries, United States and European Union (Bulgaria will join the EU in three months) to exert their utmost influence on President Gaddafi to prevent what might amount to judicial murder.


PROFESSOR LORD REES
President, Royal Society


PROFESSOR SIR KEITH PETERS
President, Academy of Medical Sciences


PROFESSOR IAN GILMORE
President, Royal College of Physicians


PROFESSOR THOMAS LEHNER
Kings College, London

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