Nurses and Physicians Welcome Libyan Court's Decision to Reverse Death Sentences

The International Council of Nurses and the World Medical Association have welcomed the decision of Libya's Supreme Court to reverse the death sentences and order a retrial for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, accused of deliberately infecting more than 400 children with AIDS.

In May 2004 the nurses - Kristiana Malinova Valcheva, Nasya Stojcheva Nenova, Valentina Manolova Siropulo, Valya Georgieva Chervenyashka and Snezhanka Ivanova Dimitrova - and Dr Ashraf Ahmad Jum'a were sentenced to death for allegedly deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus at the al-Fateh children’s hospital in Libya.

Now the supreme court in Libya has quashed the sentences and accepted the appeal against the lower court ruling on both substance and procedure. Prosecutors agreed with defence lawyers that there were "irregularities" in the arrests and interrogations of the accused. Before the recent decision of the Libyan supreme court, expert evidence appeared to be ignored that the children's infections were probably caused by poor hygiene at the hospital. Indeed the infections were believed to have occurred before those sentenced started working at the hospital, and continued after their arrests.

ICN and WMA call for a speedy retrial that will consider the evidence presented by international experts and liberate the health professionals.