Sofia Echo


Sofia prosecutors still pursuing torturers of Bulgarian medics in Libya

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Thu, Mar 29 2012 1 Comment, 1589 Views
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Sofia city prosecutors are continuing their investigation into Libyan officials alleged to have tortured a group of Bulgarian medics during the medics’ infamous marathon trial for supposedly having deliberately infected a large group of Libyan children with HIV.
This emerged from local media inquiries after a Dutch court awarded a million euro in compensation to Dr Ashraf al-Hajuj, who was one of the accused in the trial under the Gaddafi regime.
Hajuj, who now lives in the Netherlands, was pardoned along with five Bulgarian nurses in 2007.
Dr Hajuj sued 12 Libyan officials under the principle of universal jurisdiction provided for by Dutch law, the BBC reported. His lawyer said she would now urge the European Union to press Libya to cover the damages.
According to a report by Bulgarian television station bTV, the current Libyan authorities were not co-operating with the Sofia prosecutors’ investigation and were not responding to inquiries sent through official channels.
In August 2011, the investigation was resumed by Sofia prosecutors. In November, Sofia requested documentation from the Libyan court system, including signed copies of all orders in the HIV trial such as convictions, motives and decisions of the Libyan courts between 1999 and 2007, along with records of how the trial had been initiated.
Sofia prosecutors said that their investigation was into a crime and was not about financial compensation. They have asked the current administration in Tripoli for assistance in identifying and locating those who tortured the medics.
In a trial rejected by the overwhelming majority of governments, multilateral organisations, medical, legal and human rights bodies, the Bulgarian medics endured several years in Gaddafi’s courts, including having sentences of death pronounced against them.
Their "confessions" were secured through torture, the medics said.
Through a prisoner transfer agreement, the medics were handed over to Bulgaria in 2007 and, on arrival, given a presidential pardon. Their transfer to Bulgaria was preceded by payment of very large sums of compensation to the families of the children infected with HIV.
Hajuj said that the Dutch court ruling was "an important step, a very, very big step" and it was important that the others who also had been on trial had the same success, he told bTV in an interview.
He wanted the new government in Tripoli to ignore declarations that the medics had signed before their death sentences were repealed that they would not seek compensation from the Libyan state.
The Sofia prosecutors’ case against the group of Libyan officers alleged to have tortured the medics was re-opened after the 2011 overthrow of the Gaddafi regime.
Prosecutors said that unless a trial could proceed before 2014, the statute of limitations would come into effect, preventing prosecution of the Libyan officials.

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    • Profile preview
      kylej Rating: 8
      #1 19, 05, Thu, Mar 29 2012

      It would be nice to think that the Bulgarian prosecutors went after the local mafia and crime lords with such vigor. No, its far easier to let them go......

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