Gadhafi's Son Discusses Medical Workers' Release Libya recently freed six foreign medical workers who had been convicted and sentenced to death for intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. Critics said the children died because of the state's inadequate medical system. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was involved in negotiations that led to the workers' release.
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Gadhafi's Son Discusses Medical Workers' Release

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Gadhafi's Son Discusses Medical Workers' Release

Gadhafi's Son Discusses Medical Workers' Release

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Cohen.


I'm Alex Chadwick.

A follow-up here on the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor released last week by Libya. They had been convicted of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. They were sentenced to death. The European community was outraged. Then the release deal, including $1 million to each family that lost a child - that's $460 million. A question remains: where did the money come from?

One influential mediator in all this, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. He is the head of a non-profit development fund in Libya. And he's the son of Libya's leader, Moammar Gaddafi. Saif al-Islam joins us by phone from Nice in France. Hello, welcome to DAY TO DAY.

Mr. SAIF AL-ISLAM GADDAFI (Gaddafi Development Foundation): Hi, welcome.

CHADWICK: Let me read to you. This is a quote from a Reuters report filed over the weekend. Here it is: The payout was financed by a $460 million loan made by an official Libyan development institution. That would be your fund, wouldn't it?

Mr. GADDAFI: No, it's not my fund. It's a fund belongs to the government. And they paid first to the families and then we get the money from aboard, as you know, and we settle all of the accounts.

CHADWICK: So you're going to be paid back, you plan, by donors who will pay money in to repay the Libyan government for paying these families?

Mr. GADDAFI: Yeah, we are already repaid. We got the money.

CHADWICK: You have the money?

Mr. GADDAFI: Yeah.

CHADWICK: Well, the Bulgarian government said that it had forgiven some debt, and I think Qatar had made a donation to the fund?

Mr. GADDAFI: Yeah, I mean the Bulgarians wrote off their debt, and also Slovakia, they did write off part of their debt. And we got a donation from Qatar.

CHADWICK: Looking at this deal - that is, the Libyan government pays the families and then gets money back from a forgiven debt or various ways, an outsider might say, well, is this a way for the Libyan government to pay these families for their sorrow and their loss and kind of arrange things so they can blame it on Europeans and say the Europeans are paying for this to essentially take the blame away from the Libyan government, which the European community said these children died because there were poor health conditions in the Libyan health care system?

Mr. GADDAFI: We believe so. I mean my foundation worked as an observer during the trial of the Bulgarians, and we believe that the infection happened because, as you say, of the poor health quality in that hospital, and not because of the conspiracy. But the problem that we face death sentence, and the death sentence, and the death sentence again, and that was a dilemma.

Therefore we turned to the families and we asked them to, you know, find an exit. And they said, okay, you have to satisfy us and then we will not veto any extradition arrangement with Bulgaria, and that's what happened.

CHADWICK: Some critics of the deal in the West would say that Libya was bribed to release these nurses, that you are paying bribes and it's going to encourage other countries to do the same kind of thing. I wonder what your reaction is to that.

Mr. GADDAFI: No, I mean we faced the same situation with the French or with the British or with the Americans. You know, we were forced to compensate the families in order, you know, to reach a settlement with those countries, and this is the same case right now. I mean some man should compensate the families and satisfy them in order to reach a compromise.

CHADWICK: You're talking about the victims of the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing back in 1988, the judgment in a Scottish court against Libya.

Mr. GADDAFI: Yeah, and the same thing with the French, also the French victims of (unintelligible). Although we believe that we have nothing to do with those terrorist attacks and we are innocent, but we are forced to pay big number of money as a compensation. And why it's okay with the Western - the victims of these bad things with the Libyan victims.

CHADWICK: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and the head of a development fund in Libya. Saif al-Islam, thank you.

Mr. GADDAFI: Thank you.

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