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January 30, 2007
We'll Just Settle For A Little Extortion

The Libyan government indicated for the first time that the six medical workers sentenced to death for purportedly exposing a family to AIDS and touching off an epidemic would not get executed. Western governments have continuously lobbied Tripoli to stop the execution and release the workers, calling the accusations ludicrous, but until yesterday it appeared that those efforts would fail. Moammar Gaddafi's son told a Bulgarian newspaper that his father opposes the execution -- but that compensation has to be offered:

LIBYA will not execute five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death last month, the son of the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi said in a newspaper interview, calling the verdicts unfair.

A Libyan court sentenced the six for intentionally infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus in a case which started eight years ago and that has triggered widespread international concern about its fairness.

Speaking to a Bulgarian daily newspaper 24 Chasa, Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, said a solution would be found soon to save the six and satisfy families of the infected children. "There will be no executions. I hope there will be a happy end soon ... My father is also against the executions," said Mr Islam, who is Col Gaddafi's leading envoy.

"The case went in the wrong direction from the very beginning. There were many manipulations in the original files, many errors ... This is why we should seek a compromise," Mr Islam said, adding that Tripoli had already discussed a plan with Germany and France.

Libya accused the Palestinian doctor and the five Bulgarian nurses of negligently infecting a family with AIDS and allowing it to spread throughout the nation. AIDS researchers have repeatedly shown this to be false, and challenged the Libyan government's assertion that AIDS did not exist in the country before their arrival. Despite numerous entreaties, Gaddafi allowed the trial to continue and sentence the six to death. Now Gaddafi has apparently changed his mind, a happy turn of events.

However, Gaddafi wants a little something for his trouble. Claiming that the family still has case, Gaddafi wants the Western nations to pay blood money for the workers' release. Blood money has a long tradition in Islamic culture and is called bloodwit, and is described in Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Section 22, verse 178 as "ransom for manslaughter". It also gets described in An Nisa' (Women), Section 13, verse 92:

It is not befitting for a believer to kill a believer except by accident, and whoever accidently kills a believer, he is commanded to free a believing slave and pay bloodwit to the family of the victim, unless they forgo it as a charity. If the victim is from a hostile nation, then the freeing of a believing slave is enough, but if he belonged to a nation with whom you have a treaty, then bloodwit must be paid to his family along with the freeing of a believing slave. Those who do not have the means (bloodwit and / or a slave) must fast two consecutive months: a method of repentance provided by Allah. Allah is the Knowledgeable, Wise.

The expectation exists with wronged Muslims that any mercy must be purchased from the victims or their kin. However, in this case, it seems less religious and more mercenary on the part of Gaddafi and his government. The Scotsman reports that Gaddafi wants $10 million from Bulgaria to release the women, a rather steep price for bloodwit, which usually amounts to a few thousand dollars, if that. Bulgaria has already set up a foundation to pay for the continuing care of the afflicted, but they have already said that their settlement will not be in the millions.

We shall see whether Gaddafi and his son are in a bargaining mood. At the moment, though, we can hope that the six medical workers will not have to worry about a date with the hangman.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 30, 2007 4:54 AM

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» We'll Just Settle For A Little Extortion from Bill's Bites
Libyan Justice Jules Crittenden The Ghaddafis,* dad and son, are men of justice. This is why, upon noting that the trial before Libya’s highest kangaroo court in the matter of the Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting Libyan children with AIDS [Read More]

Tracked on January 30, 2007 5:14 PM


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