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Our Friends the Libyans


A strange and tragic drama is going on in Libya, which may result in the judicial murder of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. The group of aid workers was seized in 1999 and tried on charges of infecting Libyan children with the HIV virus. After repeated rounds of torture, sexual assault and other means of persuasion, the prisoners signed prepared confessions. They were sentenced to death. On December 25, 2005, the Libyan Supreme Court, for some reason, ordered a new trial, and the result, handed down December 19, 2006, was the same. Death by firing squad. Meanwhile the six are being sued by their captors for slander for saying they were tortured. The slander trial reconvenes March 11. Some details are here.  The rest of the story — Tripoli has floated the idea that it might free the “Benghazi Six” if it received $2.7 billion to compensate the families of the infected children. This is the same amount Libya was forced to pay as reparations for the 1988 terror bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Libya also wants the release of imprisoned bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 on 270 counts of murder. Clearly the six aid workers are pawns in Libya’s quest to bring home al Megrahi, and erase its culpability for Lockerbie. One hopes that the US and other allies of Bulgaria are seeking ways to end this farce and free these people, who have been suffering in Libyan prisons for eight years. If Libya wants to improve relations with the civilized world, they should be required to behave in a civilized manner.


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