Bulgarian nurses affair: Gaddafi regime 'deliberately infected' children with HIV

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Ten years after the liberation of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor from Libya, mystery still surrounds how nearly 400 children in that country's second city Benghazi contracted the HIV virus. Now Mediapart can reveal astonishing claims that it was the Libyan authorities themselves who obtained “phials” of the virus to infect many children, to shift blame on to the West. The astounding claims are made in a diary kept by the late Libyan prime minister Shukri Ghanem, who was later found dead in Vienna after fleeing Libya in 2011. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

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If the facts are confirmed, it will be a unique type of state crime. A diary kept by a former Libyan prime minister claims that two senior Libyan intelligence chiefs in the Gaddafi regime themselves infected hundreds of Libyan children in a hospital with the HIV virus. This “special operation” at Beghazi in 1998 is said to have carried out by military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and foreign intelligence chief Moussa Koussa, Mediapart can reveal.The astonishing claim that Libyan officials gave the HIV virus to Libyan children was apparently admitted by Senussi in front of witnesses in 2007, not long after the liberation of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been wrongly accused of playing a role in the epidemic that saw more than 400 children catch the virus at the El-Fatih Children's Hospital in the late 1990s. This admission was then recorded in a personal diary by Libyan prime minister Shukri Ghanem, who was later to die in mysterious circumstances in Vienna. Ghanem's diary has also revealed details of claims that Libya funded Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign.