IMAGE: Foreign healthcare workers
Yousef Al-ajely  /  ASSOCIATED PRESS
Foreign healthcare workers watch proceedings from inside the defendants' cage in a courtroom in Benghazi, Libya, in May 2004.
updated 8/9/2007 11:47:28 AM ET 2007-08-09T15:47:28

The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi admitted in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV that the foreign medics jailed on charges of infecting children with HIV-AIDS were tortured during captivity, the pan-Arab network said on its Web site Thursday.

The five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor were released last month and have maintained that their confessions were extracted through torture.

"Yes, they (the medics) were tortured by electricity and they were threatened that their family members would be targeted. But a lot of what the Palestinian doctor has claimed are merely lies," Seif al-Islam Gadhafi was quoted as saying in the Al-Jazeera interview initially broadcast Wednesday.

Dr. Ashraf al-Hazouz, an Egyptian-born Palestinian, told Dutch television last month that Libyan authorities drugged him, shocked him by attaching electrodes to his feet and genitals, and set dogs on him. He also said they tied his arms and legs to a bar and spun him repeatedly, like a chicken on a rotisserie.

Libyan authorities refused to comment Thursday on al-Islam's interview.

Al-Hazouz and the nurses were accused in 1999 of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, 50 of whom died.

Released in July
The medical workers were sentenced to death based on their confessions, but were released into Bulgarian custody last month after the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. They were immediately granted a presidential pardon in Bulgaria and freed, an act which infuriated the Libyan authorities.

In 2005, the six medics filed lawsuits against 10 Libyan officers alleging torture, but the charges were rejected by a Libyan court.

The day the medical workers were released, the director of a fund created to compensate families of infected children expressed disappointment over the court ruling.

Saleh Abdul-Salam, director of the Gadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, which manages the fund headed by Gadhafi's son, said the decision to acquit the officers was "incorrect."

Al-Hazouz and two of the nurses, Nasya Nenova and Kristiana Valcheva, have said they were ready to testify in a Bulgarian investigation launched in January about their torture allegations.

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