I woke this morning to BBC reporting that the six Bulgarian nurses and doctor charged erroneously with transmitting HIV to over 400 Libyan children have been released and are safely home in Bulgaria.
It appears that the wife of new French prime minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Cecilia, played an important role over the last 48 hrs in negotiating the terms of release together with other EU officials. The terms are only just beginning to emerge, but it appears that the Libyan High Judicial Council made its decision after the equivalent of $1 million was pledged to families of each of the 438 children affected with HIV at the Benghazi hospital. (“An EU official told the BBC that the payout was made from the Gaddafi Foundation, a charity overseen by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam.”)
However, commentators on BBC Radio this morning questioned the wisdom of the EU reopening diplomatic ties with a nation that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of its critics in Libya and elsewhere. This discussion will no doubt expand in the coming days.
Many thanks are due to Revere at Effect Measure for raising awareness of this case with a great many science bloggers. The high-profile support of Nature’s Declan Butler is also deserving of great praise. It will be interesting to learn what others think of the impact of the scientific press and blogosphere in contributing to international attention to this case.
Thankfully, justice has played out and the scientific facts have won. However, nothing will diminish the pain and suffering experienced by our international medical colleagues over the last eight years whose original admission of guilt was secured by methods of torture.