Dear Libya, Dear Bulgaria

UPDATE: 17 Dec. 2014:

Turns out that, after years of torture and horror, they were actually set free:

By the look of it from this detailed report, the whole proceedings seem to have been a big bread-and-circus for the paranoid masses… well, and a fundraising effort as well:

On July 24, 2007—eight and a half years after their arrest on charges of intentionally infecting children with the HIV virus in a Libyan pediatric hospital—the six health professionals were freed from jail and immediately extradited to Bulgaria. Upon arrival in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, they were officially pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov. (The Palestinian medical doctor, Ashraf Ahmad Jum’a al-Hajuj, was granted Bulgarian citizenship so that he could benefit from a treaty between Libya and Bulgaria that allowed for the extradition of the health professionals.) The health professionals were brought to Bulgaria aboard a French presidential plane, escorted by European Union External Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and French first lady Cecilia Sarkozy. Their release was the result of lengthy and complex negotiations between Libya and the European Union, including payment of approximately U.S. $1 million to the family of each infected child and an agreement of enhanced relations between Libya and the European Union. According to press statements by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam—head of the Gaddafi Foundation which facilitated negotiations between the Libyan state and the families of the infected children—Libya provided the payments to each child’s family; and Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic contributed by forgiving Libya’s foreign debt. Other countries, including the United States, reportedly contributed humanitarian aid.

I guess when it’s innocent medical staff whose lives are at stake, a lot of countries do negotiate with terrorists…

As for the cheering masses in Libya who were so happy when they got sentenced to death in the most moronic show trial of 2006, well… this is (one reason) why Libya can’t have nice things. I mean:

In November 2006 114 Nobel Laureates in the sciences sent an open letter to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi expressing grave concern about the imprisoned Bulgarian and Palestinian medics and urging the appropriate authorities to use their good offices to ensure that proper consideration be given by the court to scientific evidence. On December 6, 2006, Nature published a scientific paper detailing a study led by an international team of researchers from Oxford and Rome. Using the genetic sequences of the viruses from the patients, they reconstructed the mutations that occurred in the virus over time and were able to demonstrate that the HIV strain with which the Libyan children had been infected was present long before the medics arrived in Libya. Regretfully this new evidence was not taken into consideration by the court in deciding the verdict of the case. On January 3, 2007, the International Council for Science (ICSU) issued a statement—“ICSU protests against death-sentence for six health workers in Libya”—appealing to its member organizations to urge Libya to ensure full consideration of the scientific evidence relevant to the case.

But then, it’d long been clear the case wasn’t about uncovering the truth. Ugh, Gaddafi…

Original Post:

Dear Libya,

I read the news today.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A court convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor Tuesday of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers came to Libya….

Luc Montagnier — the French doctor who was a co-discoverer of HIV — testified in the first trial that the deadly virus was active in the hospital before the Bulgarian nurses began their contracts there in 1998.

More evidence for that argument surfaced on Dec. 6 — too late to be submitted in court — when Nature magazine published the analysis of HIV and hepatitis virus samples from the children.

Using changes in the genetic information of HIV over time as a “molecular clock,” the analysts concluded the virus was contracted as much as three years before the defendants arrived at the hospital.

And that’s how you treat the people who volunteer to treat your sick, even when scientists have proven your allegations are total hogwash? Yeah, don’t be surprised when the world turns its back on you someday.


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