Libyan virologist testifies at HIV trial
February 12 2004 12:00 AM ET
Libyan virologist Salem Al-Agiri testified Monday in the trial of Bulgarian medics accused of infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV that unsanitary conditions at the hospital caused the outbreak, the Bulgarian state news agency reported. Al-Agiri, of the University of Tripoli, was called as a witness for the defense of six Bulgarian medics charged in a Libyan court with deliberately infecting the children as part of a medical experiment. Al-Agiri said the infections would not have occurred had authorities at the Benghazi city children's hospital taken adequate measures to ensure proper hygiene.
The last hearing for the Bulgarians, who have spent five years in Libyan custody, is set for next Monday. It was not immediately clear when a verdict would be announced. If found guilty, the medics could be sentenced to death. All defendants have pleaded innocent and complained of police torture during interrogations, including rape and receiving electrical shocks. The European Union, with which Libya wants to mend ties, has urged the country to drop the charges.