A Libyan court is set to announce on April 15 the verdict in the trial of six Bulgarian health workers accused of deliberately infecting 393 children in a Benghazi hospital with HIV, Agence France-Presse reports. The health workers have been jailed since 1999, and some have claimed to be victims of torture while imprisoned, including rape and receiving electrical shocks.
HIV codiscoverer Luc Montagnier previously testified at the trial that the HIV infections occurred before the health workers started their jobs at the hospital and were likely due to inadequate safety measures with medical equipment and blood products. Prosecutors claim the health workers deliberately infected the children either for medical experimentation or as part of a U.S.-Israeli plot to destabilize the country. The prosecution has called for the death penalty for all of the defendants.
The European Union has demanded that the defendants be discharged, and there have been reports that the son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar Gadhafi has also worked behind the scenes to secure their release following the verdict. A verdict in the trial has been delayed several times since late 2001, with new evidence being presented following each delay.