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Libya AIDS trial of foreign medical workers adjourned again

[JURIST] The retrial [BBC Q&A] of five Bulgarian nurses [JURIST report] and a Palestinian doctor accused of spreading HIV to more than 400 Libyan patients [JURIST news archive] who were mostly children has been postponed yet again to allow the prosecutor to summon defense witnesses who have not yet appeared in court. Judge Mahmud Huweissa ordered a delay until Aug. 8, but he denied requests to release the defendants on bail and to take a second look into a 2003 international probe that found the infections were caused by hygiene problems rather than the defendants. Meanwhile, a defense lawyer and a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that the defendants have alleged they were tortured, hoping that the court will order an investigation. According to local media, the nurses, who have been incarcerated for seven years, claim that police forced them to undress, tortured them with insects and dogs, threatened them with HIV infection, withheld water and prevented them from sleeping.

The postponement comes on the first day the trial resumed since Huweissa last adjourned it [JURIST report] early this month after three parents of infected children testified against the defendants. Huweissa adjourned the trial in June [JURIST report] because the prosecution and defense both needed more time to prepare evidence and witness lists, even after he postponed it in May [JURIST report] because the lawyers lacked the proper papers to proceed. AFP has more.

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