The strange and tragic case of the Tripoli Six, a group of 5 Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor working in Tripoli, Libya, is finally drawing to a close. The six health workers had been found guilty of infecting up to 400 children in the hospital where they worked with HIV, and had previously been sentenced to death–even though the science had shown that the epidemic began prior to the arrival of the workers. This saga has been dragging on for the better part of a decade (Declan Butler at Nature has a very nice story here discussing the various twists and turns along the way), but now, as Revere reports (continued below):
After a day’s delay, word has come the Supreme Council has commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment, but with extradition to Bulgaria.
This deal was struck only after a ton of behind-the-scenes wrangling and politics (as Revere points out, the Supreme Council is not a judicial body, but a political one). While justice should have been straightforward–as I pointed out, the science showed that the epidemic began prior to the nurses’ and doctor’s arrival, and poor hygiene measures at the hospital were the likely cause–the case ended up having more wrinkles than a shar pei puppy. At one point it was suggested the medics were part of a US Central Intelligence Agency conspiracy to kill the children; this was later modified to paint the workers as rogue scientists carrying out an illegal clinical trial on the children in their care. The workers were foreigners, and thus could be scapegoated for the problems inherent in the hospital prior to their arrival. And of course, the families of the children are (understandably) outraged, and want their pound of flesh–regardless of its source. The case has been an 8-year quagmire, but hopefully there will be some resolution (if not justice) soon.
[Edited to add: Revere has another post on the topic up today as well].