Over the last few months, I have commented on the fate of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor wrongfully accused and condemned to death in Libya. They were charged with willfully infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus.
This has been disproven time and time again by the concerned world health officials in France and Italy. Declan Butler of Science Magazine has played an especially prominent role in keeping this issue in the public eye. It is a news item here in France, but it has hardly been a speck on the windscreen in the United States.
The EU has been negotiating with Libya to raise the $1,000,000 per child ransom that Libya hinted it would accept to free the accused after reimposing the death penalty last week.
In the midst of all this serious negotiation and action, the wife of French President Nikolas Sarkozy, Celia, flew to Libya last week and tried to milk the deal for personal gain. It seems the French Press isn't buying it but it was a blatant attempt to seem as if she had personally brokered the deal.
The families, under Islamic law, have the right to to forgive the accused and let them go. Today it was announced that that the families accepted the payment and the 6 will be flown to Bulgaria soon. This does not mean that their names have been cleared. The death sentence has been tranmuted to life imprisonment and the tacit agreement is that it will be carried out in Bulgaria. The Palestinian doctor had to take Bulgarian citizenship for this deal to be worked out. No one expects the Bulgarians to imprison the 6 and they should be freed when they get to Bulgaria.
This has been a very horrible piece of political theater with Ghadafy playing to the xenophobic elements in Libya in an effort to placate the mob and extract the most in concessions from the rest of the world.
No one is resting easy until the 6 are safe on Bulgarian soil!
Curiously enough, the payment is equivalent to the damages Libya paid for the Lockerbie aircraft bombing. For more information and latest details, please check out
the Effects Measure Science Blog which has been covering this passionately.