Chronology of Libya HIV trial of Bulgarian medics


Liby trialReuters - A Libyan court will deliver its verdict on six foreign medics accused of deliberately infecting Libyan children with HIV on Dec 19, the judge said on Saturday.

Following is a chronology of key events in the case.

Feb 1999 - Nineteen Bulgarian medical workers in Libya detained in connection with investigation into how children in a hospital in the eastern town of Benghazi became infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Thirteen are later freed.

Feb 2000 - Trial of six Bulgarians - five female nurses and a male doctor - and a Palestinian doctor and nine Libyans opens at Tripoli People's Court. They are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV-contaminated blood products as part of conspiracy by foreign intelligence to undermine Libya. Libyan defendants are charged with negligence.

June 2, 2001 - Defendants plead not guilty. Two Bulgarian nurses retract confessions, alleging they were tortured. Libya denies this.

Feb 17, 2002 - People's Court, which tries national security cases, returns trial to ordinary court citing insufficient evidence that defendants acted against Libyan security.

Sept 3, 2003 - French doctor Luc Montagnier, who first detected the HIV virus, testifies the epidemic broke out a year before the arrival of the Bulgarians.

Sept 8 - Libyan prosecutors demand death sentences for the six Bulgarians and Palestinian accused. They demand nine Libyan officers charged with torturing the medics be tried separately.

May 6, 2004
- Libyan court sentences five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor to death for deliberately infecting 426 children. The Bulgarian doctor is acquitted. The nine Libyans are acquitted. Torture charges against the Libyan officers are transferred to a Tripoli court. Bulgaria, the European Union and the United States condemn the death sentences as "absurd".

Dec 5
- Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam says will discuss overturning sentences if Bulgaria offers compensation. Bulgaria refuses, saying that would be an admission of guilt.

May 28, 2005 - Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, visiting Libya, meets children with HIV in Benghazi and the nurses in a Tripoli prison.

June 7 - A Tripoli court acquits nine Libyan policemen and a doctor of torturing the nurses.

Oct 17 - U.S. President George W. Bush urges Libya to free the medics.

Dec 19 - Supreme Court brings forward its appeal hearing to Dec. 25.

Dec 23 - Bulgaria, Libya, the EU and the United States agree to set up fund to help to the Libyan children and their families.

Dec 25
- Libya's Supreme Court scraps death sentences against the nurses and the Palestinian doctor, sends the case back to a lower court for retrial.

Jan 21, 2006 - Families demand total of 4.4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) from donors trying to end the standoff.

April 22, 2006 - Libya court sets May 11 date for retrial.

April 28
- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Bulgarian nurses have been detained for too long.

July 4 - Defendants again deny charges.

Aug 8 - AIDS outbreak was deliberate, prosecution says.

Aug 29 - Prosecutor demands death penalty.

Oct 31 - Neglect caused HIV infections, the defence says.

Nov 4
- Judgement day set for Dec 19.