[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jul 17 16:30:20 CDT 2007
Libya families drop death-penalty call in Aids trial
The families of Libyan children infected with the Aids have dropped
demands for the death penalty in the case of 6 foreign medics on death row
in the case, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The announcement came as Libya's top legal body was to rule on Tuesday on
the medics' fate, and after victims' families started receiving millions
of dollars in a compensation deal likely to result in a reprieve.
"We have renounced the death penalty ... after all our conditions were
met," Idriss Lagha said.
A document to that effect has been sent to the Judicial Council, which was
set to meet on Tuesday evening to decide the fate of the five Bulgarian
nurses and one Palestinian doctor, he added.
The Gadaffi Foundation involved in mediating a resolution to the case that
has dragged on for 8 years and strained ties with the West has previously
said the compensation amounts to about $1-million per child.
The medics, who have been behind bars since 1999, were convicted of
deliberately injecting 438 children in a Benghazi hospital with
HIV-tainted blood, but Lagha has said the number of victims has risen to
about 460 with several mothers now infected.
56 children have since died.
The Judicial Council, headed by the justice minister, had initially been
expected to review the sentence on Monday in possibly the final legal
hurdle for the medics, but then decided to adjourn until Tuesday.
The death penalty against the five Bulgarians and the Palestinian doctor
who now has Bulgarian citizenship was confirmed by the Supreme Court last
Wednesday, sparking renewed international concern over their fate.
Nurses Snezhana Dimitrova, Nasya Nenova, Valya Cherveniashka, Valentina
Siropulo and Kristiana Valcheva and doctor Ashraf Juma Hajuj have always
pleaded their innocence.
They say confessions were extracted under torture and foreign experts have
blamed poor hygiene at the hospital for the Aids outbreak in Libya's
second city of Benghazi on the Mediterranean coast.
But European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner
expressed hope for a positive outcome.
"I do hope that the high judicial council today [Tuesday] would come out
with a ruling and I do hope of course for clemency for the Bulgarian
nurses and the Palestinian medic," she said in Brussels.
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev also urged the panel to make a
swift ruling, saying: "We are indeed in the final phase of this trial."
Zdravko Georgiev, the husband of nurse Valtcheva, said he had received two
telephone calls from his wife on Monday in which she said she was "keeping
calm and putting her fate in God's hands".
"I am optimistic but very stressed. I haven't eaten or slept for two
days," he said outside the Bulgarian embassy in Tripoli.
Last week, the medics sought "pardon and mercy" from the council, which
can uphold, modify or overturn the Supreme Court verdict. Any deal is
expected to see the death sentences commuted to prison terms that would be
served in Bulgaria.
The Gadaffi Foundation, headed by Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi's son Seif
al-Islam, said the money was paid to the victims' families out of a
special Benghazi Aids fund created in 2005 by Tripoli and Sofia under EU
Among the victims are 8 Palestinians, 2 Egyptians, 2 Syrians, 2 Sudanese
and a Moroccan as well as Libyans, according to Lagha.
Last week, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham said the
compensation would be paid by "certain European countries and charitable
organisations, and from the Libyan state".
He refused to reveal how much money was already in the fund, except to say
it ran into "hundreds of millions of dollars."
The French Le Figaro daily had reported on Saturday that some EEU
countries could be involved in the compensation but the European
Commission, which has already committed 2,5-million to the fund, has
denied it played any role in the deal.
The 6 medics also face defamation charges brought by a senior police
officer over their torture accusations, although this case could also be
resolved if the council rules on Tuesday.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Libya makes no decision on medics' death sentence----5 Bulgarian nurses
and a Palestinian doctor face death unless the top court grants leniency.
The fate of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to
death for allegedly infecting children with the virus that causes AIDS
remained in the hands of Libya's top judicial body Monday.
The controversial case has galvanized international scientists,
politicians and human rights groups who say the charges are baseless.
The government-controlled Supreme Judicial Council can decide whether to
affirm or annul the death penalty for the six defendants, who lost their
appeal in Libya's Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The council on Monday delayed its decision until at least today as it
waited for documents from the children's families that would affirm they
are dropping their demand that the medics face the firing squad.
"Some of the families still insist on the execution of the accused,"
Ramadan Fitouri, chairman of the relatives association, told Bulgarian
radio station Darik Radio on Monday. He said European countries were
trying to force them to give up their demand by denying them visas to have
their sick children treated in Europe.
The Libyan government has sent many of the children to Italian and French
hospitals for care.
Also under discussion is the possibility of a deal to provide compensation
of $1 million for each of the families of 438 Libyan children infected
with HIV-tainted blood. European diplomats have been pressing Libyan
officials to commute the death sentence, said a European official in
Tripoli. The Palestinian doctor recently received Bulgarian citizenship so
he could be included in the deal.
"The families have agreed to accept compensation of about $1 million for
each victim," said Salah Abdelssalem, the director of Kadafi Foundation,
which has been helping the victims' families. "After that, I don't know
what will happen."
The six guest medics have been in prison for 8 years since being blamed
for causing an outbreak of HIV infections among children in Al Fateh
Children's Hospital in Benghazi, a town on Libya's northeastern coast.
They were convicted in 2004 but appealed, saying they were innocent and
their confessions were extracted by torture.
Since the case began, 56 children have died and about 20 mothers have been
infected by their children, said Idriss Lagha, a spokesman for the
Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi once accused the nurses of being part of a
plot by the CIA and Israeli intelligence to test AIDS as a biological
weapon. He later recanted.
In January, Kadafi's son, Seif Islam, told a Bulgarian newspaper that a
compromise would be found to avoid executions but satisfy the families of
the infected children. He provided no details.
The case has become an international cause among scientists and human
rights advocates who say the medics are foreign scapegoats for Libya's
poor medical conditions. A detailed investigation by the World Health
Organization in 1999 said the infections were caused by unsanitary
conditions and the reuse of contaminated needles and transfusion
The Libyan government hired AIDS experts Luc Montagnier and Vittorio
Colizzi to visit the hospital and analyze blood samples. Their 2003 report
agreed that the infections were caused by unhygienic practices, and they
detailed cases of the same strain of an African virus found in hospital
patients in 1997, a year before the medics arrived. Colizzi said the virus
was probably brought to Libya by African guest workers.
None of the outside scientific evidence was allowed into court. Libyan
scientists wrote a counter-report contending that the virus was a unique,
genetically modified strain and that the infection rate was too high to be
caused by internal transmission.
The case has strained relations with the European Union. Officials were
working on a deal in which a number of Eastern European countries would
erase Libyan debt, a face-saving way to provide compensation to the
victims without admitting that the Bulgarians were guilty or that the
Libyan hospital authorities were negligent.
But the families have become a potent political force within Libya, where
the case has emotional resonance. In a full-page article headlined, "Shed
Your Tears for the AIDS Children," the Tripoli Post weekly railed against
"the evil powers that betrayed our children and implanted in their veins
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Saudi Arabia beheads 2 men by sword
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded by sword two men, bringing to 106 the
number of executions announced by the kingdom, the interior ministry said.
Saudi Khaled al-Jahni was executed in the holy city of Medina after being
convicted of sexually assaulting a number of women, the ministry said in a
statement carried by the official SPA news agency.
Nigerian Saghiroo Ijbaji was put to death in the Red Sea city of Jeddah
for smuggling cocaine, it said. The number of executions so far this year
is the highest since 2000, when 113 people were put to death.
Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia applies a strict form of Islamic sharia
law, and executions are usually carried out in public.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are capital
The oil-rich kingdom has come under intense criticism from Western rights
groups because of its execution policy. Amnesty International, in its 2007
report, said many defendants accused of crimes that carried the death
penalty complained they were not represented by lawyers or informed of the
progress of their trial.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Saudi Arabian group seeking 400 pardons
Saudi Arabia's Higher Committee for Reconciliation is seeking pardons for
400 death row inmates through massive reconciliation efforts.
The executive president of the committee, Nasser Al Zahrani, recently met
with Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al Faisal and detailed the group's plans to
seek pardons for 400 people currently awaiting death sentences, the Arab
News reported Monday.
"We are now working to save the lives of 400 others who are on death row.
In addition, we are trying to settle more than 4,000 social, family, and
financial conflicts," Zahrani said of the committee's focus.
The committee connects convicted killers with the family members of their
victims in an attempt to reconcile their conflicts and receive pardons for
the inmates' crimes, Arab News said.
Since being established in 2001, the committee has won 117 pardons.
The Arab News said that the committee's efforts have proven beneficial as
they resolve such personal conflicts peacefully and strengthen overall
social unity in Saudi Arabia.
(source: United Press International)
Child offender faces execution in next few hours
Amnesty International has just learned that 18-year-old musician Sina
Paymard, who was sentenced to death in Iran for a crime committed when he
was just 16 years old, may be executed within the next few hours.
Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North
Africa Programme, said:
"Should this execution be carried out it would be in complete violation of
"It would also be a morally unjustifiable, abhorrent act carried out by a
government against one of its young citizens.
"The Iranian government must take immediate steps to halt this execution."
Sina Paymard, a musician, was nearly executed in September last year for
murder. On the gallows, Sina's last request was to play the ney (a Middle
Eastern flute) for the last time. The family of the victim was so moved by
his playing that they granted him a last minute reprieve. Instead, they
asked for 150 million toumans (over $US 160,000) as compensation. Sina's
family, however, has not been able to raise the full amount.
Iran continues to have one of the highest rates of executions in the
world. Amnesty International has recorded at least 124 executions since
the beginning of 2007, suggesting that by the end of this year the total
number of executions could exceed the total of 177 executions that Amnesty
International recorded in 2006.
2 recent victims of the Iranian authorities' use of the death penalty were
child offenders, whose alleged crimes were committed before the age of 18,
and a third was a man who was stoned to death. The 2 child offenders --
Mohammad Mousavi and Sa'id Qanbar Zahi -- were executed in April and May
respectively, in direct contravention of international law, which requires
that no-one should be executed for crimes committed while under the age of
While Amnesty International recognises the right of governments to bring
to justice those suspected of serious crimes, it opposes the death penalty
in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of
cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
(source: Amnesty International UK)
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