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Brit bus driver tried to help Libyan nurses

Torture officially acknowledged by Quaddafi’s son, as little known story of dissident help revealed

Is such generosity always a waste of time?

quaddafis-son.jpgThe inhospitable treatment of the Bulgarian nurses and Egyptian born doctor while they languished in jail for eight years in Tripoli is now confirmed by none other that the unpleasant looking son and heir of Quaddafi, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, 36, who has according to the BBC report today( Fri Aug 10) acknowledged to Al Jazeera TV that they were tortured, though he claimed it was merely with “electricity” and threats their families would be attacked if they didn’t confess to injecting 400 babies with the “AIDS virus” HIV. The rest is “lies”, he said.

Seif’s denials are useless, however, since the readers of the New York Times know the details already from widespread news reports of interviews with the abused detainees. The nurses have told how they were hung up by their arms until they lost all feeling in those limbs, and were kicked mercilessly as they lay on the floor afterwards. We haven’t seen confirmation that they were raped, though.

The doctor has detailed the procedures followed in his case. According to Doctor Recounts Imprisonment in Libya, he was spun on an iron bar like a roasting chicken, his testicles electrocuted, set upon by police dogs, and he was told he was being injected with the “AIDS virus”.

When, in the end, he was magnanimously told that he could stay in Libya, unlike the nurses, who were handed over to Bulgaria to continue their imprisonment, he declined, and he is now a Bulgarian citizen. All have been pardoned by the Bulgarian president, and presumably plan another lawsuit, which in this case, unlike an earlier one complaining of torture, will now present Seif the president’s son as a reluctant defense witness as taped on Al-Jazeera.

Hersee travels to Libya

All this catastrophic tragi-comedy of course was posited on the Western medical superstition, contradicted endlessly by the scientific literature, that HIV causes illness of any kind, a truth which no doubt is unlikely to be broached to the nurses and doctor, who have enough psychological stress to handle with nearly nine years of torment not even justified under the conventional wisdom.

They may have heard this news, however, since one of the oddities of the trial was the generous behavior of Mike Hersee, a Luton, Bedfordshire, England bus driver who helped found HEAL of London and is a confirmed denier of the conventional wisdom in HIV∫AIDS. He offered to help in the Libyan defense by advising the nurses’ lawyers how and why the whole idea of HIV as the cause of any illness was suspect at a profound level, according to all the science.

Hersee won himself an invitation to Tripoli, and seems to have appreciated his visit to the country and finding that not all Libyans are witch hunting opportunists, prepared to sacrifice the lives of foreigners who come to help their country if their murky politics so dictates. His story of the affair is now published in a new online gay magazine from Britain, with the unfortunate name of Hot, Wild and Free, under the title Liberated in Libya? The editors hope the AIDS goon squad can be tempted into debate:

Five Bulgarian nurses (Valya Chervenyashka, Snezhana Dimitrova, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, and Kristiyana Valtcheva) and one Palestinian doctor (Ashraf al-Hajuj) had been sentenced to death by firing squad for infecting more than 400 children with HIV at the al-Fateh Hospital in Benghazi in 1998. The Libyan Supreme Court ordered a retrial after international outrage at the unfairness of the original proceeding. During that trial, Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris and Vittorio Colizzi of Rome’s Tor Vergata University analyzed the viruses from the children, concluding that they had mostly been infected before the health care workers ever arrived in Libya. However on July 11 2007 Libya’s Supreme Court upheld the 2004 death sentences. In a surprise turn of events the medics have since been released.

The following article is intended to provoke reaction and encourage debate. The question is not only who are the real victims in this story but also what is the truth about HIV/AIDS?

The essential hopelessness of contradicting conventional medical and scientific wisdom in a courtroom emerges from the story, even though Hersee was only trying to play an advisory role, not match his credentials against Libyan authorities, however misguided they might be. After all, Luc Montagnier himself had earlier testified in vain that the Virus was present among the babies before the Bulgarians came into the country.

Let the doctor have the last word. “I know the country very well and how they work,” he said. “There is no law beyond the officers themselves.”

Little does he know that his remark may well apply to the state of medical science itself, at least in the field which formed his torture chamber. But this kind of news is probably too much ever to be absorbed by people who have been through so much.

But then, that reason to keep quiet applies to all the dissent on this vexed topic.

Libya ‘tortured’ Bulgarian medics (BBC):
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (20 May 2005)
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said some of the medics’ allegations were lies
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son has said the six Bulgarian medics who were imprisoned for deliberately infecting children with HIV were tortured.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told Al Jazeera TV that Libyan investigators tortured the medics with electric shocks and threatened to target their families.

But Mr Gaddafi denied his country would face legal action for mistreating them.

The five nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor served eight years in detention before being freed by Libya last month.

The release was made possible by a deal struck in Tripoli on improving Libya-EU ties, following years of negotiations.

‘Negligence’

In an interview with the Arabic news channel on Wednesday, Mr Gaddafi admitted the medics had been tortured into confessing.

“Yes, they were tortured by electricity and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted,” he said.

“But a lot of what the Palestinian doctor has claimed are merely lies.”

Dr Ashraf Alhajouj, the Palestinian-born medic, told Dutch TV last month that Libyan authorities had drugged him, given him electric shocks by attaching electrodes to his genitals, and set police dogs on him.

He also said they had tied his arms and legs to a metal bar and spun him repeatedly, like a chicken on a rotisserie.

Mr Gaddafi also confirmed that some of the children had been infected with HIV before the medics arrived in Libya, something which international scientists say they have proven. One case was reported after their arrest.

“There is negligence, there is a disaster that took place, there is a tragedy, but it was not deliberate,” he said.

Libyan courts had based their rulings on conflicting reports implicating the medics, he added.

The medics have always maintained their innocence and were pardoned on their return by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

One Response to “Brit bus driver tried to help Libyan nurses”

  1. herseem Says:

    Thanks for that. I’d say though that while that picture of Seif Al-Islam Quaddafi is not particularly flattering, the opinion of British people working in Libya that I spoke to suggest that now he is gradually becoming more influential he is a very moderate and modernising force by comparison with his father.

    As a minor example, you can now actually buy maps of Tripoli and Libya while you are there that previously were not allowed. Even the British embassy didn’t know any existed for tourists to buy. The one I found turned out to be the first map of Tripoli any of the Libyans I was with had ever seen. That change was attributed to Seif Al-Islam according to an oil-company engineer I met on the plane on the way back.

    In fact, not long ago Seif was publicly slapped down by his Dad for sounding too keen on democracy, so it is worth bearing in mind that his public statements may be moderated by having to not go at too fast a pace. While I’m sure the Libyan people themselves will be just as friendly as they are now, I suspect that in the not too distant future the international face of Libya from a political perspective will be a lot more agreeable.

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