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Libya foreign minister denies HIV case torture claim

[JURIST] Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam Friday denied that Libya engages in torture in response to a lawsuit filed [JURIST report] Wednesday by a Palestinian doctor detained in Libya after being accused of deliberately infected hundreds of children with the HIV virus. Ashraf Jima Hajuj filed the lawsuit against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [official website], as well as five police officers and a doctor in Libya, alleging that he was tortured during his eight year detention. Hajuj's claim, filed in Paris, relied on France's accession to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text], which allows signatory countries to take legal action against suspected torturers who enter their territory; Gaddafi arrived in France on Monday for a five-day visit, although, as a head of state, he may enjoy immunity. AP has more.

Hajuj was among the six foreign medics [BBC Q&A; JURIST news archive] who had been sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus. Libya released [JURIST report] the six in July after obtaining an agreement from the European Union to normalize and develop closer political and economic ties and increase medical and infrastructure aid. Earlier that month, the Libyan Supreme Court upheld the death penalty [JURIST report] in the case, but the death sentences were later commuted by the Supreme Judiciary Council when the families of the infected patients dropped calls for execution after each was allotted $1 million in compensation [JURIST report]. The six medics have consistently maintained their innocence, saying they were being scapegoated for unsanitary conditions in the Libyan hospital were they worked. Bulgaria and its allies argued that the medics are innocent and were tortured into admitting guilt [HRW report].

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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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