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US scientists to demand release of Bulgaria`s nurses in Lybia

Date: 27.10.2006

American scientists would join the numerous parties that have called for the release of the Bulgarian nurses on trial for intentional mass HIV infection in Libya, Science magazine reported.

The Bulgarians were previously sentenced to death but in the end of 2005 Libya's Supreme Court ordered re-trial, thus overruling the previous sentences.

A letter has been published online, accusing the Libyan goverment for its attempt to use the medics as scapegoats for the mass infection.

Virologist Rober Gallo, HIV co-discoverer, is the author of the letter. Fourty-three other scientists signed the letter, Science reported.

The magazine reported that the five Bulgarian nurses were detained in 1999 and their confessions were produced through torture.

Analysis of European scientists showed that the infection resulted from poor hygiene in Libyan hospitals, Science reported.

Reports of Italian virologist Vittorio Colizzi, listing the causes of the infection, were dismissed as evidence during the course of the trial. These were replaced with the testimony of Libyan doctors that was "full of errors and misunderstandings of basic molecular biology", the magazine said.

A final court sitting is scheduled for October 31 and the verdict is expected shortly after.

Gallo said that scientists "want to get people angry and influence their governments to do something”. Libya on the other hand needed international assistance to prevent another mass infection from taking place, Gallo said.

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