Medics tortured, Gaddafi son admits

FOREIGN medics freed from a Libyan jail were tortured into confessing they deliberately infected hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said in remarks broadcast yesterday.

The five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were freed on 24 July after a deal between Tripoli and the European Union, having spent eight years in jail.

The lawyer of the Palestinian doctor had said his client was tortured into confessing and that he planned to complain to a UN human rights panel.

Col Gaddafi's son confirmed the allegation of torture in an interview with Qatar-based Al Jazeera television.

"There was torture with electricity ... there was a threat to attack their families," Saif al-Islam said.

Some of the children were infected with the virus that causes AIDS before the medics arrived in Libya and one case was reported after their arrest, he said.

"There is negligence, there is a disaster that took place, but it was not deliberate."

A Libyan court acquitted nine Libyan policemen and a doctor of torture.

International scientists say they have shown the HIV subtype began infecting the children before the medics arrived.

The medics have always maintained their innocence and said they confessed under torture. Bulgaria and other EU governments had also said the medics were innocent.

Western scientists have said Libya's inefficient health-care system was the real culprit.

Libya commuted death sentences to life imprisonment following the payment of a $460 million financial settlement - $1 million to each victim's family.

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