Libya is a third world country with a third world health system.
In 1998 a team of foreign health professionals (the majority Bulgarian) arrived in Libya to provide care for patients in a Paedatric hospital in Benghazi.
In February 1999 the Libyan authorities arrested 23 of these people and charged them with deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus.
Ultimately 17 were released but the remaining six, Bulgarian nurses Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova and Palestinian physician Ashraf al-Hajuj were charged with a variety of offenses all carrying the death penalty.
The sole evidence against these people is based on confessions from Ashraf al-Hajuj, Kristiyana Valtcheva and Valentina Siropulo. And it doesn't take much imagination to figure out how these confessions were obtained.
This has been an ongoing saga since 1999 with all sorts of odd twists and turns along the way. At one point Libya accused these people being agents of a Mossad plot to kill off Libyan children with AIDS (an element contained in some of the confessions).
In another incident Dr Zdravko Georgiev travelled to Libya to see his wife Kristiyana Valtcheva and was promptly arrested, charged and convicted of crimes involving illegal transactions with foreign exchange and sentenced to four years in prison. Although he has served his sentence he is still stuck in Libya since the Libyan authorities will not grant him an exit visa.
There have been multiple trials and convictions where the Benghazi six have been convicted and sentenced to death. In December 2005 the Libyan supreme court overturned the previous trials and ordered a new one.
And this trial has just ended with the defendants found guilty once again and sentenced to death once again. A trial I might add where it was ruled that foreign health experts were not allowed to testify. Can I say Kangeroo court without fear of contradiction?
Alas I can shed no light on why these people have become pawns in some deeper game the Libyan Government is playing with the rest of the world and Bulgaria in particular.
But as they enter their seventh year in Libyan custody facing the prospect of the firing squad there are those speaking out on their behalf.
US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice is working very hard and has met with the Libyan Foreign Minister to express the displeasure United States over this travesty.
She also met with Bulgaria's foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin to discuss this case him and to jointly issue a public condemnation of the latest death sentences and call for the immediate repatriation of these people.
This is not a story well known in New Zealand, Bulgarians, Libyans and Palestians are people from another world far away.
But they are people nevertheless and we should not lose sight of them and injustice is injustice where ever it exists.
So spare a thought for Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova and Ashraf al-Hajuj in their time of trouble and if you believe in the power of prayer you might choose to remember them in this way.