44 American scientists, lead by virologist Rober Gallo, Director of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, Maryland, and co-discoverer of HIV, have joined organisations petitioning for the plantiffs’ release. In a letter published online by Science, they accuse the Libyan government of using the medics as scapegoats for the accidental infection with HIV of over 400 children at a hospital in Benghazi.
Analysis by European experts indicated that they were infected before the accused medics’ worked there and probably due to poor hygiene in the hospitals. However, during the trial, these reports, from virologist Vittorio Colizzi, were dismissed as evidence, and replaced by ‘erroneous’ reports from Libyan doctors, protestors said.
In September, the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and its member organisations in 129 countries, also pointed out that the six medical professionals have been imprisoned since 1999. ‘We strongly urge all interested parties to reach a speedy and mutually agreeable resolution that will see justice for the imprisoned health professionals, address the pain of the families and mobilise resources for the treatment of the surviving children,’ said ICN President, Dr Hiroko Minami.