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 29, 2006

Libya trial next Tuesday — update

Filed under: HIV,Justice,Libya — admin @ 9:18 pm

With the Libyan death penalty trial of the Tripoli Six scheduled to end next Tuesday in Libya, I thought I’d post an update on some on the buildup of international pressure over the past few days.

Back in early September, the international defence team of the six, led by Emmanuel Altit, a lawyer with considerable international legal experience in humanitarian cases, including Guantanamo, called for greater international pressure for a fair trial, and for independent international scientific expertise to be heard — see here and here.

At the time, one observer stated:

“If international pressure isn’t stronger before the appeal, the risk is large that they will be condemned to death,” predicts Michel Taube, cofounder of Together Against the Death Penalty, a French non-governmental organization. “To avoid that outcome, diplomacy is not enough. We need international mobilization.”

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of incredible mobilization — see my recent posts here — and this has continued to build over the past few days, and can be expected to increase further before next Tuesday’s trial. Here are a few examples, of events around this weekend.

This week, Thursday’s news article in Nature, demolishing the scientific evidence that has been key to the prosecution case has been picked up by many in the mainstream media, as has the appeal by 44 scientists in the journal Science.

Today the Washington Post ran a strong Editorial “A Travesty in Libya: A new cure for AIDS: Shoot foreigners.” The Voice of America ran a very clear radio feature on the case — article here, and the Real Audio download of the broadcast, which is much better than the article here, as did Radio France Internationale, and the BBC World Service — I haven’t links to the audio yet. I, and others, have also given several other interviews for radio shows to be broadcast before the trial. PLoS also ran a fast-tracked Editorial Friday by Laurie Garrett.

AlJazeera has also ran a depeche, “Libya AIDS evidence ‘worthless’” and many other media in the Middle East and North Africa have also covered the latest developments in the story. The BBC and many others have also stepped in to cover the case, in the run up to next week’s trial

Effect Measure, one of the blogs that has been most active in the Libya case also has a new post Saturday. A group of Italian journalists has also mobilised the country’s science festival with petition signing etc — the blog of one of them is here — in Italian. The French press has also started picking up on the latest on the case, eg this piece in the Nouvelle Obs, a popular weekly news magazine. A short radio broadcast publicising that Mickey Grant has put his 1h22 min documentary on the case up for free on Google Video here, has been broadcast on many US radio networks this weekend.

I’ll post more updates this week. Meanwhile, see the Libya HIV trial resource page for links, background information, and actions that can be taken.


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