Annan To Contact Libyan Government Over Death Sentences of Bulgarian Workers Accused of Infecting Children With HIV
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday said he plans to contact the Libyan government "at a high level" to discuss a Libyan court verdict sentencing six Bulgarian health care workers and a Palestinian doctor to death for allegedly intentionally infecting more than 400 children with HIV through contaminated blood products, the AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (Lederer, AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/12). A five-judge panel last week sentenced to death by firing squad the six workers who have been detained in the country since early 1999. Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi initially accused the workers of taking orders from the CIA and the Israeli secret service to kill Libyan children in order to destabilize the country. However, some European governments and human rights groups say that the Libyan Health Ministry failed to screen blood products adequately and allowed poor sterilization practices at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, where the children were infected (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/11). Many human rights groups and Western governments have denounced the sentences, saying that the convictions were based on false confessions obtained through torture. Some Western governments have demanded that the workers be set free, according to the AP/Sun-Sentinel. "I am going to talk to them about the situation of the nurses and the people in this situation ... to see what can be done to help them," Annan said (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/12). However, Annan declined to discuss exactly what he would say to the Libyan government, according to the Associated Press (Lederer, Associated Press, 5/11).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.