Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Ashraf al-Hajuj





Death and later resentenced or commuted to Life

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Summary of Case:

"Ashraf al-Hajuj was one of six co-defendants -- five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor -- who were doing aid work in Libya when accused of deliberately infecting 438 children with AIDS HIV-tainted blood at the El-Fatih Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya's second city. They were arrested in February 1999, and protested their innocence. Thirteen other Bulgarian medical workers arrested at the same time were eventually released. The six co-defendants confessed to infecting the children, but they all retracted them, claiming they had been physically tortured into making them. They were charged with murder with a lethal substance among other lesser charges. Their trial began on February 7, 2000 in the People's Court, and two years later, in February 2002, the court declared it did not have jurisdiction to try them on the murder charge, and their case was transferred to the criminal court system. Their second trial began on July 8, 2003. They were convicted of the murder charges and on May 6, 2004 were sentenced to death by firing squad. In the face of widespread international condemnation of the fairness of the trial, in December 2005 their appeal was successful and a retrial was ordered. Their third trial began in May 2006. The six co-defendants were again convicted of the same charges in December 2006, and again sentenced to death. Their convictions and sentences were upheld by Libya's Supreme Court on July 11, 2007. Six days later Libya's High Judicial Council commutted the sentences to life in prison, reportedly after European Union countries agreed to compensate Libya approximately $1 million for each of the 438 children. Libya agreed to transfer the six to Bulgaria to serve their sentences, including the Palestinian doctor who was granted Bulgarian citizenship a month earlier on June 19, 2007. After arriving in the capital of Sophia on July 24, 2007, Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov.granted the six full pardons on the basis of their innocence of the crimes. Six weeks later, on August 10, 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's leader Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, admitted that the confessions by the six were extracted through torture with electric shocks and threats against the safety of their families."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"On July 24, 2007 Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov.granted the six full pardons on the basis of their actual innocence of the crimes."

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Information Source 1:

"Libya upholds death sentences in hiv case, Guardian (London), July 11, 2007"

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Information Source 2:

"Libya revokes hiv death sentences, BBC News, July 17, 2007"

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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