Bulgarian medics testify against Libyan jailers

Bulgarian nurses on Friday gave testimony against Libyan jailers who the medics said had tortured them to confess they deliberately infected hundreds of Libyan children with HIV.

Bulgarian prosecutors in January launched an investigation against 11 Libyan officers who they believe had tortured five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor and plan to take them to a Bulgarian court if enough evidence is collected.

The six medics were freed on July 24 under a cooperation deal between Tripoli and the European Union, after having spent eight years in a Libyan jail and having been sentenced twice to death.

The six have always maintained their innocence and said they confessed under torture. Sofia and its allies in Brussels and Washington have also said they are innocent and pushed for their release.

“Two of the nurses testified today [Friday],” the chief prosecutors’ office spokesperson said. “We will be looking for the truth.”

Because of summer recess of the national investigation service, the other medics will testify next month, officials said.
Under Bulgarian law, the Libyans face up to six years in jail if found guilty.

A Dutch lawyer for the Palestinian doctor, Ashraf Alhajouj, who recently took Bulgarian citizenship, said he planned to complain to a United Nations human rights panel.

On Thursday, the son of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi told Qatar-based al-Jazeera television that the six had been tortured with electricity and were threatened that their families would be attacked.

In 2005, a Libyan court acquitted nine Libyan officers and a doctor of torturing the medics.

International scientists have said the HIV epidemic spread in the children’s hospital before the arrival of the medics and that poor hygiene was the most likely reason for it.—Reuters

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