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Libyan HIV trial

Libyan HIV trial

The trial of four Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV continued this week, with authorities from the hospital where the infections occurred testifying that the health workers did intend to infect the children, Reuters Health reports. The Libyan experts testified that they stand by a 61-page report they submitted in 2003 that says the HIV transmissions resulted from a deliberate act. The Libyan experts also testified that banks containing HIV-infected blood plasma and a genetically modified form of HIV were discovered at the home of Kristiana Vulcheva, one of the nurses.

Judge Mahmoud Haouissa, the presiding judge on the three-member tribunal of the Tripoli criminal court, refused to allow testimony from international HIV experts that would have refuted the Libyan experts' claims. It's unclear whether Haouissa will allow the testimony later in the trial.

The health care workers were originally convicted in 2004 of infecting 426 children with HIV at a hospital in Benghazi and were sentenced to death, but a Libyan judge overturned the death sentences and ordered a retrial in December 2005.

Health officials testified in the original trial that the HIV infections originating at the Benghazi hospital occurred before the health workers arrived there and were likely the result of poor sanitary conditions, particularly the reuse of medical equipment that hadn't been properly cleaned. The health workers, under arrest since 1999, say they were tortured while in prison so that authorities could wring confessions out of them. (The Advocate)

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