BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Libya 'tortured' Bulgarian medics
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.


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.

Yes, they were tortured by electricity and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

"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.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific