Bulgarian nurses case

Bulgarian nurses case
The case of Bulgarian nurses is a lengthy diplomatic and judicial, which took place in Libya between 1999 and 2007 in which the defendants, five Bulgarian nurses (Kristiyana Vultchéva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka and Snejana Dimitrova) and one Anaesthetist of Palestinian origin naturalized Bulgarian (Ashraf al-Hadjudj) were accused of several crimes.

Case Summary
The five nurses arrived in Libya in 1998 to work in pediatrics, Ashraf al-Hadjudj, the young Palestinian anesthesiologist, initially conducting an internship training and participated with nurses on humanitarian operations in the Benghazi hospital.

Early in 1999, the Libyan medical discover that over 400 children treated at the hospital and having undergone blood transfusions were infected with HIV. Twenty-three Bulgarians working in or for the hospital and a Palestinian doctor are arrested and imprisoned, he and five nurses were accused, following a criminal investigation of several crimes, some facing the death penalty :

* Criminal actions on Libyan territory leading to the premeditated murder of several people (crime punishable by death);
* Participation in an organized conspiracy to commit a crime abroad from international terrorism with the aim of achieving security of the State of Libya;
* Voluntary HIV contamination of at least 393 children, which triggered an epidemic of AIDS in Children's Hospital in Benghazi Al-Fatih;
* Shares in breach of the standard and Libyan traditions (including production and consumption of alcohol, adultery and lust).

During the eight years of litigation in Libya, a fifty-infected children will die of AIDS or opportunistic infections.

The nurses and doctor denounced during a trial of their conditions of detention and torture by their captors, but they were not pursued by the Libyan court and instead lodged a complaint for defamation.

In a trial related to this case, a Bulgarian doctor, Zdravko Georgiev, the doctor, husband of Kristiyana Vultcheva, came to Libya after the indictment of it, was also sentenced to 4 years in prison for illegal possession of foreign currency, then put under house arrest, and is still waiting for an exit visa (August 2007).

On July 24, 2007, after their death sentences confirmed on appeal, was commuted to life imprisonment, five nurses and doctor were eventually extradited to Bulgaria, after lengthy negotiations conducted by the European Union and the proposed a financial compensation for families of patients. They were repatriated in a French plane, and were pardoned by Bulgarian President upon arrival in Sofia. Beginning in November 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by singer Sylvie Vartan has done much for the media coverage of this case and for their release, visited the medics. The President has received both an honors awarded by the President of Bulgaria.

The epidemic in Libya Al-Fath
The outbreak of El-Fatah is the largest and most serious incident documented in the history of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and that of hepatitis C even though the modes of transmission were documented and the means of protection known and disseminated worldwide. The Libyan public opinion has been very wound up and many foreign medical workers were arrested - six were eventually charged. The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi initially accused the American CIA or Israeli Mossad conspiracy to conduct a fatal experiment on Libyan children.

The crisis broke out in the open in November 1998 when the Libyan magazine "La" (number 78) published a paper on AIDS at the Benghazi Children's Hospital. In December the Libyan Writers Association reports more than 60 AIDS cases so far this year alone in Libya. "The" then ask Sulaiman al-Ghemari, the Libyan Minister of Health, which reveals that most cases involve children. Parents believe their children have been infected by blood transfusions in the main children's hospital in Benghazi. The magazine "The" has been censored and closed but it was finally revealed that over 400 children had been infected.

Libya has sought and received an emergency team of WHO was missionnée in December and remained in Libya until January 1999. The WHO team has produced a classified report secret (still available) on the situation.

The WHO report of Dr. PN Shrestha (1999)
The report of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999 described the visit by the WHO team (Dr. PN Shrestha, Dr. A. and Dr. V. Eleftherious Giacomet) in Libya in Tripoli, Sirte and Benghazi between 28 December 1998 and January 11, 1999 while the Bulgarians were still employed in the hospital staff.

This report is apparently classified as confidential and we do know that some elements reported by experts at trial:

"This report strongly suggests that nosocomial HIV infection in the Al-Fateh hospital were caused by multiple sources of infection. In addition, the WHO team notes the lack of supplies and equipment required such as containers of blades, sterilizers, incinerators, gloves, etc.. [...] The WHO has noted several similarities with previously documented outbreaks of emerging diseases among children in Elista in the former Soviet Union in 1988 and in Romania in 1990. In particular, the practice of using persistent intravenous catheters for injections in hospitalized children, as well as sharing the same syringes without proper sterilization, would appear among the probable causes of the emergence of Benghazi."

See also World Health Organization