Vienna, 19 December 2006 Press release

Plassnik shocked at death penalties against medical personnel in Libya


Efforts to rescind sentence continued

Vienna, 19 December 2006 - "I am shocked at the renewed death penalties pronounced today in Libya," said Foreign Minister Plassnik in response to today’s judgement by a Libyan court against five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician. In proceedings pending since 1999 the medical personnel have been charged with deliberate HIV infection of more than 400 children at a Benghazi hospital.

"The EU is unflinching and consistent in its support of the worldwide abolition of death penalty. This inhumane penalty is diametrically opposed to our fundamental values and to human dignity. We shall therefore exhaust all possibilities to obtain a repeal of this judgment," emphasised the Foreign Minister.

The nurses and doctor have always denied the allegations of an intentional infection of the children with HIV. The lawyers of the accused have already announced that they will be lodging appeals against the judgments with the Supreme Court. "We want a swift, just and humane solution," said Plassnik. In this context the Foreign Minister recalled the long-term efforts by the EU to provide specific support and medical care for the children concerned and their families, for instance by setting up an international aid fund.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
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