TRIPOLI, Libya, (AP) – The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has acknowledged that the Bulgarian medical workers who were jailed on charges of infecting children with HIV were tortured during captivity, Al-Jazeera TV said on its Web site Thursday.
The doctor and five nurses were released last month and have maintained that their confessions were extracted through torture.
“Yes, they were tortured by electricity and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted,” Seif al-Islam Gadhafi was quoted as saying by the Arab broadcaster.
Dr. Ashraf al-Hazouz, a Palestinian who was held along with the five Bulgarian nurses said in an interview with Dutch television after his release that the Libyans shocked him by attaching electrodes to his genitals and feet, set dogs on him, drugged him, and tied his hands and legs to a metal bar and spun him like a chicken on a rotisserie.
“A lot of what the Palestinian doctor has claimed are merely lies,” the younger Gadhafi was quoted as saying in the Al-Jazeera interview initially broadcast Wednesday.
Al-Hazouz and the nurses were accused in 1999 of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, 50 of whom died. The medical workers were sentenced to death based on their confessions, but were released into Bulgarian custody after their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. They were immediately granted a presidential pardon in Bulgaria and freed.
Al-Hazouz, who has been granted citizenship in Bulgaria, said he was attacked by dogs three times.
In the end, he said, “I gave the answers they wanted.”
The medical workers said they endured torture and rape — abuses under which they made admissions.
One of the nurses, 41-year-old Nasya Nenova, said she tried to commit suicide out of fear of further torture.
Another, Kristiana Valcheva, has said she “was tortured with electric shocks, beaten and submitted to every kind of torture known since the Middle Ages.”
In 2005, the six medics filed lawsuits against 10 Libyan officers alleging torture, but the charges were rejected by a Libyan court.
Al-Hazouz, Nenova and Valcheva have said they were ready to testify in a Bulgarian investigation launched in January about their torture allegations. Bulgarian prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov said the Libyan officers were suspected of using coercion, torture and threats between February and May 1999 to extract the false confessions from the six.