Отклонения, лирически и прозаически
A Taste of Freedom

August 2007

We, Libyans, invented the conspiracy plot." Saif al Islam, son of Libya’s leader Gadhaffi, said this in an interview given for Reuters and admitted that it was because of this false theory that six people spent eight and a half years in prison facing death sentences. In the following week, Saif al Islam toured almost every big news agency giving interviews about the case, revealing piquant details of the HIV case, the Libyan judicial system, the negotiations, and the results. Speaking on CNN, the future head of the Libyan state confessed that "many things in Libya must change, including the judicial system." Talking to Newsweek, Saif admitted that Libyan demands were "extortion, but the Europeans also extorted us. Yes, it is an immoral game, but they, the Europeans, set the rules of the game, and are now paying the price."

In 1999, six Bulgarian medics and a Palestinian doctor were arrested and thrown in a Libyan prison on charges of deliberately infecting 426 children with the HIV virus, as part of an alleged anti-Libyan conspiracy organised by Israeli Mossad and western intelligence bureaus. The medics spent one year in prison without being allowed to speak to anyone and were tortured into confession of this horrendous crime. Based on the confessions of three of the women, the Libyan police and judicial system fabricated a story which would lead to the court ruling of death sentences and to another seven years in prison.

Ironically, a court with such a vivid imagination would not even bother listening to scientific evidence proving that the HIV contamination was the result of poor hygiene and actually began before the Bulgarians arrived in Libya. Armed with religious fanatism, the relatives of the infected children demanded a terrible death for the Bulgarians and the Palestinian, burning Bulgarian flags, having completely forgotten that whatever development their country had had since the 1980s was greatly due to the thousands of Bulgarian workers there. The image of Libya has been damaged further by the following facts that emerged recently:

- A demand for one million USD "blood money" for each infected child. When the money was transferred, the bank accounts were drained within hours. Do you know what it was spent on? A new house, a new car, a new (second or third) wife, a luxurious holiday. Bravo!

- After taking the money, the Libyans seemed to change their minds and insist that the EU pays more: for the building of two highways, one east to Tunisia, the other west to Egypt, the building of a railroad system to connect the ports with the interior of the country, the financing of the restoration of archeological monuments, more money for the treatment of the infected children, and normalization of the political ties of Libya with the EU. Wow!

- As the nurses were released and sent to Bulgaria, where President Parvanov pardoned their life sentences, Libya protested this decision, claiming that Bulgaria violated the prisoner exchange agreement between the two countries. One of the articles in this agreement says that the exchanged prisoners become subjects solely to their country’s laws. According to Bulgarian laws, the President may exercise his right to pardon at his own discretion. Get it?

Libya summoned the representatives of the Arab League States demanding that they all sever their diplomatic and economic relations with Bulgaria. At an extraordinary session of the Arab foreign ministers held in Cairo on July 30th, the Bulgarian government was criticised and asked to perform its obligations deriving from the political agreement with Libya. The ministers also expressed their "regret that such a human tragedy, which ought not to be repeated, and whose perpetrators ought to be punished… has been politicized." A Qatari publication also wrote that Bulgaria has shown contempt for the HIV-infected Libyan kids and that "the case was ended in an ugly way with a secret pardoning."

Meanwhile, Kristiana Valcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valya Cherveniashka, Valentina Siropulu, Snezhana Dimitrova, Dr. Zdravko Georgiev and Palestinian doctor with Bulgarian citizenship Ashraf al Hadjuk are recovering in the President’s residence in Boyana. According to specialists, the long prison stay may have caused severe psychological trauma to the nurses. The Bulgarian state will finance the entire medical treatment of the seven and will also provide them with apartments in Sofia. Mayor Boyko Borisov has also promised to provide the medics with computer courses in order for them to adapt to the modern world.

After the high-profile ‘Ne Ste Sami’ campaign, the release of the medics feels like a victory for the Bulgarian people as a whole. This campaign, together with the celebrations following Bulgaria’s success in the 1994 World Cup, has managed to unite Bulgarians like nothing else.