Libya To Release Nurses?

Sources in Libya indicate that one of the contentious issues between the EU and Moammar Ghaddafi may be closer to resolution. Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have sat in prison for years, purportedly for giving HIV to children, a case that outside experts insist got trumped up to cover for Libya’s own incompetent hygiene at its medical facility. Now a financial deal may set them free as soon as next month:

Hopes are rising that five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly infecting children with the HIV will be released within weeks in a deal involving a multimillion-dollar international fund for healthcare to treat the victims.
European diplomats said last night they were now “cautiously optimistic” that the eight-year saga could be nearing its end, paving the way for improved relations between the EU and the Gadafy regime.
Optimism increased yesterday when the supreme court in Tripoli announced that its final decision on the sentences will be given on July 11. Observers described the session as businesslike and less confrontational than previous occasions, though families of the victims protested outside, holding pictures of their infected children, 56 whom have died.

Even though the six got the death penalty, Ghaddafi has been slow to execute them. He knows that their execution would create another huge rift between Libya and Europe, and Ghaddafi needs better relations with the West. Relations with other Arab countries have soured over the last few years, and the dictator needs friends somewhere.
Europe must feel similarly, spending $50 million to buy Ghaddafi’s friendship, or at least a ransom for the lives of the six. It has a high profile; Tony Blair pressed Ghaddafi on the case during his state visit to Tripoli earlier this year, and some of Europe’s most senior diplomats have worked to set the six free. Bulgaria joined the EU this year and the EU wants to show that it has the clout to protect Europeans abroad.
If all goes well, the court will meet next month and commute the sentences to time served, once the money gets to LIbya. It won’t go to the children who contracted HIV, but rather go to the state for AIDS-awareness programs — or so Libya claims. In any case, it looks like the interests of Libya and Europe have finally converged enough to allow Ghaddafi to finally release the six. Let’s hope that remains the case.

4 thoughts on “Libya To Release Nurses?”

  1. Paying off Libya will only encourage them to conduct more show trials of Europeans followed by demands for cash.

  2. And how many Europeans are willing to go to Libya for any reason, now days?
    Fewer than before, I’d bet.

  3. Update: Africa rejects July 4th “union” w/ hostage extortionist Kaddafi;

    Libya’s Gaddafi Storms Out of AU Summit: A disappointed Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, left the AU Summit in Accra, Ghana, prematurely on Tuesday night after the majority of African leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni, rejected a call for the immediate creation of a United States of Africa… The Libyan leader, dressed in a golden tunic and wearing sunglasses most of the time, reportedly angered several delegations by stating that he helped them in their liberation struggles and knew their countries better than them, accusing those who opposed his scheme of not being interested in developing… He allegedly also caused unease when he proposed the immediate creation of continental ministries, beginning with a ministry of defence, which he proposed to head himself.

    Reuters reports Kaddafi got a much darker tan for the trip.
    Any guesses for which side Rev. Jesse came to lobby?

    In 1979, after Jackson met with Libyan Embassy officials at PUSH headquarters, a Libyan diplomat gave PUSH $10,000. The donation triggered a Justice Department probe “as to whether Jackson was required to register as a Libyan agent“…

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