Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

October 14, 2006

New York Times editorial on Libya case

Filed under: HIV,Justice,Libya,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:33 am

The New York Times today published a strong editorial — “A Medical-Legal Travesty in Libya” —
As one can seen from my last few posts, momentum — for international pressure for a fair trial and for the scientific evidence to be heard in the case — is now building in the crucial run up to the next and last court session in Tripoli on 31 October.

Excerpts below:

“Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are facing the death penalty in Libya based on preposterous charges that they deliberately infected hundreds of children with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. This looming miscarriage of justice demands a strong warning to the Libyan leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, that his efforts to join the ranks of peaceable nations will suffer if the medical workers are made the scapegoats for the failure of Libya’s own health system.”

“Thus far the United States and European nations have focused on setting up an international fund to care for victims of the tragedy and to upgrade equipment at the hospital — in hopes that will be enough to get the medical workers set free. Libya is demanding substantial compensation as well, analogous to what it paid to families of the victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

That seems a grotesque overreach given that the nurses and doctors are the victims here. The White House holds Libya up as a model for other nations to follow in renouncing weapons of mass destruction. Libya must also be judged by how it respects human rights and the rule of law. “

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