Health workers jailed in Libya say they were tortured

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 20 2002 1:00 AM ET

Bulgarian health workers jailed in Libya and accused of deliberately infecting 393 Libyan children with HIV say they have received "brutal treatment" and have been tortured while in prison since early 1999, The [London] Sunday Times reports. The health workers have been imprisoned for nearly four years on charges that they deliberately infected the children while working at a hospital in Benghazi, Libya. Confessions by the health workers that prosecutors plan to use against them during an upcoming trial were "extracted" after "months of horrific torture," the workers told international human rights officials. One nurse said she received electric shock torture for three months before she signed her confession. Others said they were routinely beaten.

The trial, postponed several times already, is set to begin before the end of the year. If found guilty, the health care workers will likely be executed. International AIDS experts have said the infections were due to poor health practices by virtually all of the hospital's staff, including the systematic re-use of dirty medical devices, including hypodermic needles.