The morning of July 24, on board of the French government airplane, the Bulgarian nurses Mrs. Kristiana Vulcheva, Mrs. Nasya Nenova, Mrs. Valentina Siropulo, Mrs. Valya Chervenyashka, Mrs. Snezhana Dimitrova, as well as Dr. Zdravko Georgiev and Dr. Ashraf al-Hajuj (presently Bulgarian citizen) arrived in Bulgaria after nearly 9 years of suffering in the Libyan jails. They were escorted by the EU commissioner of external relations Mrs. Benita Ferrero – Waldner and Mrs. Cecilia Sarkozy, wife of the French president Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy. At their arrival on Bulgarian land the medics were acquitted by a decree of the Bulgarian president Mr Georgi Parvanov.
All the Bulgarian and foreign media had a wide broadcast of the liberation and return of the Bulgarian medics in their top news.
On this occasion Mrs. Mimoza Dimitrova – Director of ACET was guest in one of the Bulgarian national TVs (Nova Televisia) during the live broadcast of the arrival of the medics. She commented on the psychological sequels of the traumatic events to which the medics were exposed during the 9 years of detainment.
They were exposed to systematic violation of their human rights including torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, slow and unjust trial and different forms of deprivation.
The Bulgarian medics were convicted to capital punishment in May 2004 on the charges that on orders of foreign enemy secret services have infected with HIV virus 426 children in the hospital Al-Fattah in Benghazi. In December 2006 and July 2007 different Libyan courts have confirmed the death sentences of our compatriots.
To the testimonies of the convicted, in the initial period of their detention, they have been exposed to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment including torture with electricity, beatings with sticks, falanga, painful postures, treating with hot and cold water, strong light, threatening (including with dogs).
The different forms of deprivation, the medics were exposed to, include crowded cells, solitary confinement, deprivation from visits in the first 10 months, lack of a lawyer’s defense and after they had a lawyer assigned, his access to his clients has been frequently obstructed.
After their return the Bulgarian state has taken care of the medical and psychological assessment of their health in the military system for Bulgarian rangers coming back from their missions.
Still the question for the long term sequels to their psychological health remains open. They are more probable to unfold psychological problems in the period after the initial shock of their liberation and the necessity to readapt to the life in an environment they have forcefully been subtracted from for nearly 9 years.
The Assistance Center for Torture Survivors (ACET) in letters to the President and Prime-Minister has declared readiness to include in our free rehabilitation program the medics on their application.