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Libya police officers to face Bulgaria torture charges in medic AIDS case

[JURIST] Bulgarian prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov said Tuesday that he plans to file charges against eleven Libyan police officers who are accused of torturing five Bulgarian nurses [JURIST news archive] and one Palestinian doctor, who have been convicted and sentenced to death [JURIST report] by a Libyan court for knowingly infecting over 400 Libyan patients, primarily children, with the HIV virus while working at a hospital in the Libyan town of Benghazi. Kokinov said authorities gathered enough evidence from a preliminary inquiry in December to begin an official judicial investigation that may lead to a trial in Bulgaria. Bulgaria and its allies, including the US and the European Union, contend that the nurses' convictions are based on confessions obtained through torture [HRW report]. A civil lawsuit filed by the nurses against nine Libyan police officers was dismissed [JURIST report] in December 2005, and there have been suggestions that the nurses will now be charged with slander against the police.

According to international health experts [JURIST report], poor sanitary conditions in the hospital caused the virus to spread before the nurses even arrived. Although the six have been sentenced to death, the son of Libyan leader Colonel Muhamar Gaddafi [BBC profile] has recently indicated that they might be released in exchange for compensation [JURIST report] for the hospital victims and that they will be spared the death penalty. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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