Libyan Rebels' Govt Vows to Open Bulgarian Medics' HIV Trial Files

Diplomacy | September 8, 2011, Thursday // 17:40|  views

The new NTC Libyan Ambassador to Sofia, Issa Omar Ashur, during his first press conference in Sofia. Photo by BGNES

All institutions in Libya are currently controlled by the rebel Transitional National Council and the opening of all files from the Bulgarian medics HIV trial is forthcoming.

The statement was made Thursday, during the first press conference of the new NTC Libyan Ambassador in Sofia, Issa Omar Ashur, who said the files' opening will establish the truth about the case against the Bulgarian medics along with those who are responsible.

Regarding Tripoli's debt to Bulgaria, he reiterated that Libya was ready to examine all documentation available and negotiate with Bulgarian officials.

One day ago, speaking for the private-owned TV channel bTV, Ashur stated that talks on renegotiation of Libyan debt, which Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov vowed to demand earlier, can begin ASAP.

"Your PM and the Minister in charge can visit Tripoli immediately and meet representatives of the NTC cabinet to discuss the matter. We are ready for partnership," the diplomat said.

He also invited the Bulgarian medics, who spent 8 years in Libyan jail, after being sentenced to death on charges they have purposely infected Benghazi children with AIDS, and were released due to international pressure on the Gaddafi regime, to visit him at the Embassy and talk about all issues important to them.

The diplomat spoke while taking a bTV crew on a tour of the Libyan Embassy, after his predecessors, appointed by troubled Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, were expelled from Bulgaria by the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Last Friday, also in a TV interview, Borisov declared Bulgaria will be relentless in asking compensations from Libya over the case with the Bulgarian medics and in claiming renegotiations on Libyan debt. These statements were immediately labeled "populism" by the presidential candidate of the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Member of the European Parliament and ex Foreign Affairs Minister, Ivaylo Kalfin.

On Thursday the diplomat told the media that he was honored to represent NTC in Bulgaria and to be in Bulgaria, adding he was ready to see at the Embassy any Bulgarian official or common citizen.

"For us Bulgaria, its cabinet and its PM are friends. We want Libya to open for economic, social and cultural partnership with Bulgaria; we want to open a new page," the diplomat declared.

The diplomat was Ambassador to Somalia before arriving in Sofia.

In 1999-2007, the Gaddafi regime arrested, imprisoned and tortured five Bulgarian nurses and one Bulgarian doctor, and twice sentenced to them death for allegedly infecting 400 Libyan children with AIDS, the so-called Libyan HIV trial. The Bulgarian medics were brought back to Bulgaria and then pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, after increased international pressure on Gaddafi, especially by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, among other factors.

The travesty trial of the Bulgarian medics in Libya was a clear act of blackmail from the very beginning. In 2007, Bulgaria completely wrote off Libya's debt to facilitate negotiations and obtain the release from jail of the six. In April, the father of a Libyan boy, who got infected with HIV in a Benghazi children's hospital in the late 1990s, has confessed that not the Bulgarian medics, but leader Muammar Gaddafi was behind the outbreak.

The doctor, Dr Zdravko Georgiev, one of the medics formerly jailed in Libya, said at the end of August that if Bulgaria is a real country it must take steps to make sure that he and the five nurses are ultimately acquitted. He further made it clear that he would not initiate court proceedings to prove his innocence if he had to do this all by himself.

Also at the end of August, Borisov declared that Muammar Gaddafi will be held responsible for the crimes he has committed against Bulgarians, as well as Libyans.

"Col. Gaddafi's regime was connected with Bulgaria in a painful way. We experienced many years anxiously awaiting [news] about the fate of our compatriots, and we are convinced that Muammar Gaddafi will be brought before the International [Criminal] Court in the Hague as a defendant for his crimes, including his crimes against the Bulgarian medics," Borisov stated.

On August 23, 2011, Bulgaria's Prosecutor's Office has renewed the probe against the torturers of the six Bulgarian medics.

The Prosecutor's Office announced they have started gathering new evidence on the case already in May. The investigation had been stopped previously due to lack of collaboration on behalf of Libya's authorities for the last 3 and a half years. Now, Bulgaria wants new legal assistance, which aims at identifying the torturers' identities, will be sent to Libya, apparently to the Transitional National Council.

On June 28, 2011, Bulgaria became the 19th sovereign nation to have recognized formally the Libyan rebels' Transitional National Council in Benghazi as the legitimate representative of the Libyan nation in international affairs.

The recognition of the rebels who have been fighting the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi since February 2011 came during a visit of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov in Benghazi, the rebels' capital.

Bulgaria's Borisov Cabinet thus reversed its position as of March 2011 when it refused to recognize the National Transitional Council stating that some of its members were involved in the HIV trial.

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Tags: presidential candidate, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Member of the European Parliament, ex Foreign Affairs Minister, Ivaylo Kalfin, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, medics, Libya, compensations, claim, Bulgaria, rebels, transitional National Council, Paris, Friends of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, Issa Omar Ashur, Ibrahim al-Furis, Vienna Convention, persona non-grata, Foreign Affairs Ministry, consul, embassy, Gaddafi, rebels, Libya, NTC, regime, diplomats, Libyan, Muammar Gaddafi, expels, Bulgaria


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