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Update on the Benghazi Six


Torture

July 30, 2007 -- The Palestinian-born physician Ashraf al-Hazouz gave details about the torture that he and the five Bulgarian nurses endured during their 8 years in a Libyan prison. see the Reuters article...


Release

July 24, 2007 -- Today the BBC reported the release of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian physician who had been imprisoned in Libya since 1999 and sentenced to death for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with HIV. Many around the world had argued that evidence suggested that the tragic infections were actually due to poor conditions at the hospital. The Benghazi Six arrived in Bulgaria on a French government plane, and immediately received a pardon from Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

The release follows a deal under which the families of the infected children will reportedly receive compensation of about US$1 million each. The deal also calls for stronger economic and political ties between the European Union and Libya, as well as health aid to Libyan children infected with HIV. The health workers' release was secured after years of diplomatic efforts, particularly by European Union External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and we commend everyone who played a role in this very positive outcome. We also thank the nearly 700 concerned people from all over the world who have written letters through the Center's site since 2005 urging the Libyan government to release the prisoners.

See the BBC article, the video story from the BBC, and profiles of each of the Benghazi Six from the BBC.

Please thank the EU and Libya!

Please send letters of thanks to European Union External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner at relex-sanctions@ec.europa.eu and please copy us at letters@truthaboutnursing.org. Please also thank Libya at libya@un.int and copy us at letters@truthaboutnursing.org.


Qaddafi's son says Benghazi Six should return to Bulgaria by July 25

July 20, 2007 -- "Seif Al Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, said he expects the [five nurses and one physician], sentenced to life jail in a high-profile HIV trial, to return to Bulgaria in a few days, [said] Seif Al Islam in an interview for the Arabic daily newspaper Al Hayat." The Benghazi Six "will return on Bulgarian soil next Wednesday at the latest, when France's President Nicolas Sarkozy is ... expected to mediate in the dispute between the two countries." more...


Libyan death sentences commuted to life in prison; talks pending on return of nurses and physicians to Bulgaria

July 17, 2007 -- Today the High Judicial Council in Libya commuted to life in prison the death sentences of five nurses and one Palestinian physician who were convicted of infecting hundreds of children with HIV. This development came shortly after an agreement under which the families of each of the 438 children will reportedly receive about $1 million in compensation. According to the BBC, talks will begin July 18 with Libya's foreign ministry regarding the possible transfer of the Benghazi Six to their home nations. see the BBC article...


Libya Delays by Few Hours Final Decision on Jailed Bulgarian Nurses

July 16, 2007 -- "Libya's High Judicial Council delayed by a few hours its long-awaited sitting on Monday to have the final say on the fate of the five jailed Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. The nine-member body, headed by the minister of justice, will convene at 6 pm local time."


"Libyan Families Drop Death Demands in Bulgarian Medics HIV Trial"

July 15, 2007 -- "The relatives of HIV-infected children formally dropped [today] their demands for execution of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, who holds a Bulgarian passport." more...


New York Times
: Libya’s Hostages

July 14, 2007 -- "Instead of sense and justice, from the outset this case has reeked of scapegoating, showboating and blackmail. Scapegoating, because the real culprits were the unsanitary conditions and shoddy medical practices at the children’s hospital in Benghazi... Showboating, because the Libyan strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, first needed something to deflect attention from his agreement to compensate victims of the Lockerbie bombing and his more recent cozying up to London and Washington. And blackmail, because Libya has openly linked the resolution of the phony case to huge payments to parents of the infected children" more...

Oh baby, I'm dreaming of Monday
Oh baby, will I see you again?    

July 11, 2007 -- Today the BBC reported that the Libyan Supreme Court had upheld the death sentences imposed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician for allegedly infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. However, a group of interested parties, including the children's families, the Libyan government, and the European Union, has reportedly reached a final agreement as to financial compensation for the families. The BBC reports that this agreement will be among the factors considered by Libya's High Judicial Council--which can overrule the Supreme Court--when it meets to decide whether to "confirm, annul or amend the death penalty verdicts." Human rights groups and health experts have long argued that there is no persuasive evidence that the health workers committed any crime, but that the tragic infections were instead the result of poor conditions at the hospital. Please write to the Libyan government and politely request that the Council order the release of the nurses and physician. The Council reportedly meets on Monday, July 16. Please see our action page on the Benghazi Six and join our letter-writing campaign!


BBC: "Libya HIV death sentences upheld"

July 11, 2007 -- "Libya's Supreme Court has upheld death sentences imposed in 2004 on" the Benghazi Six. "The High Judiciary Council, which can overrule the Supreme Court, is to meet on Monday to confirm, annul or amend the death penalty verdicts...The BBC's Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says any financial settlement with the families of the infected children means they will drop their rights to pursue the death penalty." more...


Washington Post: "Deal Struck in Libya Foreign Medics Case"

July 10, 2007 -- "A settlement has been reached to resolve the crisis over five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor... Libyan officials have said the families' acceptance of a compensation settlement was key to resolving the legal deadlock. It would satisfy Islamic law and allow the death sentence to be withdrawn, they say." more...


"Libya: Solution of Bulgarian Nurses' Case to Be Reached in Few Days"

July 6, 2007 -- "A solution of the case of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor on a death row in Libya is expected in several days, the chairman of the HIV infected Libyan children' families association said Friday, Darik News reported. 'The negotiations continue but there is we have not reached to an agreement yet,' Ramadan al-Fitouri said. 'Some of our demands are still unanswered so the case will probably be wrapped up in 2-3 days,' the chairman added." more...


"Bulgaria Closer Than Ever to Solving Libya-Jailed Medics' Case"

July 3, 2007 -- "Bulgaria is closer than ever to the final result in the case of the five Bulgarian medics and the Palestinian doctor, sentenced to death in Libya, the country's President Georgi Parvanov said Tuesday at the meeting with his German counterpart. Still the President did not dare to say whether the six medics' case would be solved by the end of the year. He also refused to comment whether the case will be solved by the end of the Portugal presidency of the EU." more...


"EU cites progress in bid to free Bulgarian nurses"

June 12, 2007 -- "The European Union said on Tuesday it made "substantial progress" in talks with Libya this week to secure the release of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor held in Libya, but more talks were needed." more...


"Libya Ready to Negotiate Bulgarian Nurses Release"

June 6, 2007 -- "The efforts to free the six medics sentenced to death on the accusation of having contaminated with AIDS Libyan children, probably will find a way out of the situation after the positive European initiatives, claimed Muammar Gaddafi' s son Saif al-Islam, cited by Reuters." more...


"Deal to free medics, treat children in Libyan AIDS case may be near"

By Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 19, 2007 -- "The European Union and families of children who contracted AIDS are close to clinching a deal that would allow Bulgarian nurses held in Libya to escape the death penalty, Libyan sources said. Under the deal, the children would receive top-quality medical care at international institutions for as long as they live while their families would be given financial compensation, they said." more...


"Libya Asks For French Help On Nurses' Trial, Bulgaria Prays For Miracle"

May 14, 2007 -- "Libyan officials and members of the team of France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the case of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian medic sentenced to death for intentional HIV infection in Libya. The results of the discussion were considered positive, officials said as quoted by French Le Journal du Dimanche. On the night of his electoral victory, Sarkozy said that France would support the nurses. Libya hinted several times over the past weeks that it wanted to end the nurses' case and needed French assistance, the newspaper said." more...


"No Bulgarian Lawyers in Libya's Court Room on May 6"

May 3, 2007 -- "Bulgarian lawyers will not be in the court room during the next hearing of the defamation trial against five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, jailed in Libya in a travesty HIV trial." more...


"US, EU Vow to 'Reinforce' Efforts to Free Libyan-jailed Bulgarian Nurses"

May 1, 2007 -- "US and EU leaders vowed to step up efforts to free five Bulgarian nurses, sentenced to death on charges of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with the AIDS virus, at a summit late on Monday. While reaffirming our sympathy to the children infected with HIV/AIDS in Libya, we will reinforce our efforts aimed at the release and exoneration of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor sentenced to death against all scientific evidence," the joint statement released at the end of the summit read." more...


"Bulgarian Nurses Trial on EU-US Summit Agenda"

April 30, 2007 -- "The trial of the five Bulgarian nurses in Libya, sentenced to death on bogus charges of intentionally infecting kids with the AIDS virus, has been included on the agenda of the EU-US summit in Washington. EU and US leaders gathered Monday at the White House to boost economic ties but harboured little hope of striking an accord on the issues of visa-free entry and global warming." more...


"French presidential candidates pledge to work to free Bulgarian nurses in Libya"

April 26, 2007 -- "France's two presidential candidates pledged Thursday to redouble efforts to free five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with HIV, if elected." more in The Associated Press...


"U.S. impatient over inaction to free nurses"

April 24, 2007 -- "The United States has complained to Libya that resolving the eight-year-old case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting about 400 children with HIV is taking much longer than what Tripoli had led Washington to believe." more in the Washington Times...


European Union "calls on Libya to free Bulgarian nurses"

April 20, 2007 -- "The EU parliament's president called for the release of five Bulgarian medics sentenced to death in Libya after being convicted of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV. Hans-Gert Poettering said Libya should revoke the death sentence and free the nurses, allowing them to reunite with their families in Bulgaria." more...


"New EP Initiative in Support of Libya-Jailed Bulgarian Nurses"

April 19, 2007 -- "Representatives of all political forces in the European Parliament are to take part in the representation ceremony of a new initiative in support of the five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya."European Movement", whose leader is the former President of the EP Pat Cox." The European Movement "called for a full public and political mobilization in Europe in the name of the cause." more...


"Qaddafi Turns Down Meeting with US' Negroponte"

April 18, 2007 --"Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi has refused to meet with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who arrived in Libya carrying a letter in support of the five jailed Bulgarian nurses." more...


"Bush Presses Elusive Qaddafi to Release Jailed Bulgarian Nurses"

April 18, 2007 -- "US President George Bush has called on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to bring to a favourable end the trial of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, imprisoned in the African country on trumped-up charges of purposely infecting more than 400 children with HIV." more...


"Qaddafi Not Interested in Captives Switch - Report"

April 11, 2007 -- "Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is no longer interested in exchanging the five Bulgarian nurses, sentenced to death in Libya, for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, Polish weekly Wprost reported." more...


"Bianca Jagger Calls for Libya-Jailed Bulgarian Nurses' Release"

April 7, 2007 -- "Mick Jagger's first wife, Bianca, arrived to Bulgaria on Saturday to take part in the "You are not alone" campaign for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses, on a death row in Libya. ...The 62-year-old lady is one of the most ardent fighters for human rights in the world and she is also a leading figure in Amnesty International." more...


Newsday: "Fixing blame in Libya HIV outbreak"

April 1, 2007 -- "BENGHAZI, Libya - It was autumn of 1998 when Bashir Jarbou's wife first noticed something odd in the whitewashed corridors at Al-Fateh Children's Hospital. The Jarbous' pneumonia-stricken 4-month-old son, Milad, had been moved to a separate room. Nurses had started wearing rubber gloves. Jarbou, a wiry English teacher, asked what was going on." more...


"Bulgaria Allocates BGN 500,000 More to Nurses' Defence"

March 29, 2007 -- "Bulgaria's government has allocated half a million more to cover expenses on the defence of the five nurses jailed in Libya on charges of spreading HIV, the state radio reported." more...

 

"World "You Are Not Alone" Coalition to be Established"

March 29, 2007 -- "Organizers of the "You Are Not Alone" campaign in support of the Bulgarian nurses jailed in Libya will sign an agreement for setting up a world coalition by the same name in Paris." more...


"US Ambassador Beyrle: Bulgarian Nurses Should be Back Home This Year"

March 28, 2007 -- "US ambassador John Beyrle said it is imperative that the five Bulgarian nurses, jailed in Libya in a travesty HIV trial, are released and return back home by the end of this year." more...


3 More Years in Jail Menace Bulgarian Nurses in Libya

March 13, 2007 -- "Bulgarian nurses, on a death row in Libya, could be sentenced to three more years in prison if found guilty in the slander trial, brought against them by their torturers, lawyer Osman Bizanti said Tuesday. The medics will have to serve the sentence although they are jailed for more than eight years now." more...


"UN Officials Discuss Bulgarian Nurses Release in Sofia"

March 12, 2007 -- "The leaders of the UN organization, which has taken up with the immediate release of the Bulgarian nurses, death-sentenced in Libya, is to arrive for an official visit to Bulgaria on Monday." more...


"Nurses' Torturer Ready to Face Interrogation in Bulgaria"

March 11, 2007 -- "Djuma Misheri, one of the cruelest torturers of the Bulgarian nurses, according to the women's testimony, is ready to come to Bulgaria to defend his actions in the trial against him and ten more men." more...


"Libya Court Delays Bulgarian Nurses' Slander Hearing"

March 11, 2007 -- "The Court in Tripoli has adjourned the hearting of the slander trial against the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor until March 25." more...


"Qaddafi Promised Nurses Wouldn't be Executed"

March 10, 2007 -- "Italian lawyer Giovanni di Stefano claims that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has promised him that the Bulgarian nurses accused of starting a HIV epidemic would not be executed no matter what the Court of Appeals decides." more...


"European Council Discusses Case of Libya-Jailed Bulgarian Nurses"

March 9, 2007 -- "Bulgaria's prime minister brought up the matter of Bulgarian nurses' case at the Friday European Council summit. That has been the first discussion of the problem at such a high level." more from The Sophia Weekly...


"Libya Gives Another Sign Bulgarians Will Be Spared"

March 8, 2007 -- "The five Bulgarian nurses, who were sentenced to death in Libya for deliberately infecting children with HIV, will not be executed even if the supreme court upholds the verdict." more from The Sophia Weekly...


"Sarkozy Condemns Bulgarian Nurses Trial as Outrageous"

March 8, 2007 -- "French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, favourite to win the upcoming elections, described the trial against the five Bulgarian nurses in Libya as outrageous." more from The Sophia Weekly...


"Bulgarian Medics Protest With Black Ribbons"

March 5, 2007 -- "The medics from Bulgaria's seaside city of Varna are to wear black ribbons as a sign of protest against their low salaries and the crisis in the healthcare system." more from The Sophia Weekly...


Amnesty International: "Libya: Six foreign medics should be released"

January 30, 2007 -- "Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan authorities to release the six foreign health professionals who were sentenced to death on 19 December 2006 after being convicted of deliberately infecting 426 children with HIV, some 57 of whom have since died of AIDS." more from Amnesty International...


Spiegel Magazine: "Pay up or die: Bulgarian Nurses Face Death Penalty in Libya"

November 9, 2005 -- "The case has been running for years. Five Bulgarian nurses and a doctor stand accused of infecting Libyan children with AIDS in a children's hospital. They have already been sentenced to death. But will diplomacy -- and the Shariah -- be enough to save them?"


Washington Times: "U.S., EU near deal on nurses' release"

November 3, 2005 -- "The United States and the European Union are in the final stages of negotiating a deal with Libya to free five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for infecting children with HIV, U.S. and European officials said yesterday."


Also see more details on the case at the Web Factory Bulgaria.


Our analysis from November 2005:

November 9, 2005 -- As of today, the fate of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian physician who face execution for allegedly infecting over 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus remains unclear. International experts have concluded that the tragic infections were not due to intentional acts of the prisoners, but to poor infection control systems at the hospital. A wide range of governments, international organizations, and health care groups have expressed grave concern as to the conviction of the health workers. (See our initial piece on this issue.) The Center believes that nurses should not be scapegoated because of their proximity to systemic health care problems, which could inhibit efforts to improve care and promote better access to skilled nursing. Press stories indicate that negotiations between the Libyan government and concerned entities are ongoing, but accounts of the progress of negotiations vary. Some suggest that a deal to free the health workers may be imminent, perhaps involving the transfer of resources to help the infected children and their families, or the transfer to Libya of a man convicted of involvement in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The Center thanks the 200+ supporters who have written to Libyan leaders as part of our campaign urging the release of the prisoners. And we urge all who have not written to do so now in a polite, respectful way that expresses concern for the plight of the infected children, over 40 of whom have now reportedly died. The Center and some allied organizations have also considered other methods of advocacy, but those plans have been put on hold for now due to tactical considerations. We urge all concerned to watch closely, as we understand that the Libyan supreme court is due to consider the health workers' final appeal on November 15.

Please click here to send a letter to the Libyan UN to ask for the release of the Benghazi Six.

 

 

 

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