Tags: Libya's | Actions | Against | Westerners

Libya's Actions Against Westerners

Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM

The leader of this Muslim fundamentalist country, Muammar Gadaffi, has stated publicly that due to their Islamic faith, Libyans cannot die from AIDS – the children must therefore have been injected deliberately by the foreigners with AIDS-infected blood.

The dictator also accused the CIA or the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, as being behind the children's deaths from AIDS. He blamed other crises on the United States and Israel, both of which accuse Libya of supporting terrorism.

Luc Perrin, head of virology at Geneva University Hospital, examined 40 of the children and said the contamination was caused by "bad medical practices" inside Libya itself – not by deliberate intent to murder people.

Perrin said at least half of the 40 examined children were also infected with hepatitis C, which strongly indicates that the hospital re-used unsterilized medical injection needles – a widespread practice throughout Third World countries and a routine practice in many African hospitals. The court, however, has refused to allow Perrin to testify.

The six Bulgarian and one Palestinian doctors and nurses are expected to receive death sentences pronounced this Saturday, Sept. 22 – after they have already languished in a dismal Libyan jail for three years, where they have been tortured and beaten to force confessions out of them.

Charged with murder and conspiracy in the deaths, they have not been allowed to bring in expert medical witnesses from the West who could have proven their innocence beyond any doubt whatsoever.

The Gadaffi fundamentalist Muslim regime of Libya does not accept any Western medical opinion as having any validity at all.

This Saturday, five Libyan state "judges" – all devout fundamentalist Muslims who have not heard any expert Western medical evidence about the case whatsoever – are to hand down their verdicts. Under Shari'a law, the death sentence is expected, but Othman el-Bezanti, the hapless lawyer who has to defend the Bulgarians, claimed that if found guilty, they have "two stages of appeal."

However under the present emotional circumstances, Western diplomats fear that Gadaffi might stage a fast-track appeal to mount a public execution of the Westerners.

The defendants have all pleaded not guilty to any of the charges and have in turn accused the Libyan state interrogators of extracting "confessions" under torture that included electric shocks and beatings.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the medical community are deeply concerned, complaining that HIV-contaminated plasma had been "discovered" at a defendant's apartment while she was in police custody and that the search procedures themselves were highly questionable.

Human Rights organizations also were deeply concerned about Libya's refusal to allow court testimony from experts on the subject from Switzerland and France. Amnesty International has said "there have been serious irregularities in ... pre-trial proceedings".

Bulgaria also accused Libya of holding a political trial of its nationals and said that Libya was trying to get out of paying its $300 million debt to Bulgaria. Bulgarian diplomats have repeatedly called for an independent team of international experts to study the case and testify during the trial.

Diplomats believe Libya has other ulterior motives in bringing the case to court – the Muslim country could also be trying to divert attention from the horrendously poor medical conditions at many of its state-run hospitals.

Colonel Gadaffi's regime has only recently had some of its sanctions lifted and has been seen spending its income from oil sales on the purchase of a huge number of North Korean missile sites instead of spending it on the improvement of medical facilities.

Western countries had lifted the trade embargo with Libya under the strict requirement that the generated state income could be used only to improve sociological and medical treatment facilities inside the country.

Western diplomats, however, have noted that conditions at Libya's public hospitals and clinics have not been improved at all. For instance, disposable instruments are repeatedly re-used and basic rules of hygiene are not observed, the diplomats said.

The case of the infected children was first brought to light in 1998 by the Libyan magazine La, which is based in the coastal city of Benghazi, where the Al-Fateh children's hospital is located.

The magazine included the story of twin girls who were born in Benghazi on August 2, 1998. A month later, one of the babies fell seriously ill and her father took her to Al-Fateh hospital, where she received a blood test and a check-up. Three months later, a social worker visited the girls' home and insisted on conducting new tests, saying the baby might have been infected with viral hepatitis.

The baby's twin and mother were also tested. The results showed that the baby who had been hospitalized was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Several parents told the magazine the hospital did not tell them their children were infected. The government closed down La a few weeks after these reports were published.

In November 1998, a group of desperate fathers interrupted a medical conference Gaddafi was attending in Benghazi and appealed to him for help. A few weeks later, the government detained scores of hospital staff before narrowing its list to the Bulgarians and the Palestinian. They have been held since February 1999.

At an AIDS conference in Nigeria in April, Gaddafi called the infections in his country "an odious crime."

"Who charged [the medics] with this task? Some said it was the CIA. Others said it was Mossad," Gaddafi stated.

Besides the murder and conspiracy counts, the Bulgarians are charged with drinking in public and engaging in extramarital sex; alcohol is banned in Libya.

Nine Libyans charged in the same case are out on bail.

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The leader of this Muslim fundamentalist country, Muammar Gadaffi, has stated publicly that due to their Islamic faith, Libyans cannot die from AIDS - the children must therefore have been injected deliberately by the foreigners with AIDS-infected blood. The dictator...
Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM
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