L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

13 July 2007 Blog Home : July 2007 : Permalink

Cecilia to the Rescue

While Sarko digs up French scandals, his wife Cecilia is trying her hand at international mercy missions. Her first attempt is to try and free those unfortunate nurses who have been used as scapegoats in Libya for the HIV infection of some 500 children. The 5 bulgarian nurses and one palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death and various people have been trying ot get them freed ever since they were arrested in 1999 to little effect. The latest EU attempt last month was not terribly successful:

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner denied on Thursday (June 21st) that a deal on freeing five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya was imminent. She acknowledged, however, that EU negotiators are busy trying to reach a settlement. The nurses -- and a Palestinian doctor who was recently granted Bulgarian citizenship -- were sentenced to death on charges that they deliberately infected nearly 500 children with HIV. Bulgaria, its European allies, and the United States have rejected the verdict, citing experts who testified that the epidemic began before the medics were hired. The families are demanding compensation for every infected child.

Ceclilia went with a French Presidential aide, Claude Gueant, but oddly she claims that it wasn't an official visit:

Mrs Sarkozy's visit came one day after the death sentences were handed down on the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor, who recently acquired Bulgarian citizenship.

She said her visit was "not official" - she had been sent by the French president "as a mother" to affirm the support of France for the children.

It looks like the Libyans are negotiating more to avoid a serious loss of face by admitting that they framed the foreigners. Atg least that is what I infer from this:

"The nurses are also ready to meet a condition stipulated by Libya - not to engage in any additional appeal against Libya through international judicial proceedings."

Official or not, one can only hope it has an effect. I doubt I am alone in hoping that the poor Bulgarians are released.