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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Monday, 25 December, 2006

AIDS CASE: JUSTICE (?) IN NEED OF LEGS!

By: Ghoma

        Had the Aids case involved only Libyans, Arabs and/or 3rd-World citizens, it would have been wrapped up in few days, and the sentence(s) were carried out, in the middle of the night, immediately; and the whole thing was forgotten about in few days after, if anyone, outside of the people affected or concerned, ever heard anything about it at all. What made the 'Trial' a case celebre and a hot potato was the fact that it involved some citizens of an European country, Bulgaria -though on the margins of European culture and economics!- and which already has been admitted to what's becoming an exclusive club for the privileged, EU, and to which it will finally join as of this coming January. The European element and the Western involvement in the proceedings politicized the case and carried it beyond its boundaries, to become a universal cry of guest workers (professionals) caught in the intricate mayhem of 3rd-World clunky machinery of justice and politics.

        To discuss such a trial, one should keep in mind what's at stake in this case: The victims, justice, science, and ethics and politics. Victims and their families, due to a bunch of reasons were given, allowed, and/or encouraged to form their own pressure and lobbying group. The existence of such pressure group has complicated as well as added more pressures on a defeated and humiliated regime and its broken, if ever existed, system of justice. Give the ironic, actually tragic would be more adept, morphing of the case into a proxy war, thus justice, and as in all wars, this time around is no exception, it's still the first victim. Science, whether in its basics or applied, is still at its incipiency in the Aids' area to present a definitive judgment and to help mount a convincing argument about when and how the HIV virus entered the blood stream of its infected carriers. As to ethics and politics! though behind the scenes, they're running the show and badly at that. The regime is doing what it can to ward off the emasculated image it ended up with when it cowed - actually surrendered- to the West without conditions, by trying to recover some respite in standing up for its citizens and demanding the same treatment it was dealt to them be reversed now the other way around! As one line in one of those old movies went: " Miskeen Araab maa ya'ref quwwat romaan." (Poor Arabs don't know the power of the Romans). As to the Westerners, here where opportunism and grandstanding meets in unholy alliance. The 'civilized' bunch are not interested in the details of the case or what exactly took place, only to show of their muscles and what they can do. Call it a case of aborted morality by the Westerners who seem to being caught in their own vomit by exhibiting the old paternalistic -actually imperialistic- attitude and a false sense of justice. The pseudo-science claims, were not only the oldest trick in the book but5 also 101 defense tactics, that's, to throw some doubt in what the prosecutor presents. The strategy of throwing some sticks in the wheel spikes of prosecution takes different aspects, from testimony of well-known professionals, to lending credit to hired scientists to transpose the inherent doubts of science to become the case's hobgoblin miracle savior. The turning of the cards around by accusing the system of its won failure rather than the accused of taking advantage of the failure was latest camouflaging of 'science and medicine' in the garb of ethical pursuit of justice.

        Only time will tell if the reconfirmed verdict of guilt, and the death penalty that goes with it, for the one doctor and the five nurses, issued the other day in a Court of Appeals, sitting in Tripoli, has any merit to it in the sense of being well reasoned based only on the evidence presented. For beside the sword of all swords, time, Libya has had very little else on its side to warrant credence to its claims of trustfulness in the fairness of its findings, particularly on a difficult and well-publicized case. Neither history nor present circumstances would give confidence to other than perhaps the victims and their families that Libya and the present regime could manage such an intricate case where politics, ethics, and science, not to mention the law, did intersect, and were stretched to their limits. Libyans not only lack the tradition of deliberation, of transparency, and of playing fair by the rules, but also never were known for their exuberant intellect , daring technical know-how, or the abundance of their scientific skills; these were all badly needed for carrying the Aids's case to a satisfactory outcome for all. The still quasi rogue state and not yet very far from the pariah status is asking that its still fresh past to be forgotten, on account of her only words, without matching deeds, and to trust her judgment this time around to be right! Ain't ironic, indeed, for the state which has never played by the rules of civilized nations, admittedly had committed few of the most heinous crimes of terrorism - Lockerbie, UTA, LaBelle, and scores of murders of its dissident citizens around the world - and to have had denied continuously of not having anything to do with WMD, only to admit again of working on some of their programs, etc. The flip-flopping -of the Libyan state- doesn't help the efforts to be admitted into the main stream of nations.

        It'd be foolish to reiterate that perhaps, like few other cases, the Aids's case was surrounded from the beginning by all kinds of aberrations which only added to its opacity and complications. The case, though at the intersection of justice with science and ethics, could be a routine case with all the artificial hoopla made around it by mostly third parts who hadn't a dog in it. If the foremost pillar of both justice and science is transparency of the procedures followed and the clarity of rules applied, then one is legitimate to question Libyans pretensions to them. The part about, ethics is more complicated than at first appears since it reaches deep into the essence of a country and its values and culture! A pall of suspicion already hangs on the conduct of the police in addition to the inherent or induce biases of all those who were involved in the trial. There's good reason to believe, due to the hoopla that no one in the country, especially those in the loop, presumably had not heard about the case, hence it'd have been almost impossible for the presiding judge(s) as well as the rest of the court to have been insulated enough from the negative publicity and remained without an opinion in the case that would have impacted an undue influence toward the outcome and to therefore take their verdict at its face value. Just to give a puny example, the de fact head of the regime, Qaddafi, had repeatedly and publicly declared the accused were part of a nefarious plot woven by hostile foreign intelligence service to destabilize his regime and/or to conduct some inhumane and weird experimentations.

        As to the clinical knowledge and the science required to break the case, the first still lacking and the second is still in its infancy; both don't lend authoritative hand to one or the other of the contending parts. Aids, in most part, is still an enigma shrouded in prejudice and surrounded by a mystery lost in the mists of syndromes. Whatever knowledge there's, it's used to cope with it and to alleviate its symptoms, and to control its rate of progression. Not much is known about the HIV Virus beyond being a fast mutating virus and it's transmitted through body fluids. Other than that, all is hype and mush! These snippets are far from the humanity is having a handle on the disease that lends to someone or another the authority and credibility to determine with precision when the infection had occurred, what kind of virus responsible for it, and how.

        The unknowns in the case are only one part, the other is Libya's lack of traditions of free and independent judicial system. If justice is a 15k-foot mountain, Libya is standing at its foot trying to figure out how to climb it. It's enough to say that Justice and its context, the world, are in continues float or justice was never an absolute category nor the world is a perfect place, either. When there's a disconnect and both justice and its administrator(s) are strangers to each other, then joining company and making a trip together is a tough sell to start with and a project in need of a lot of persuasive skills to send down the throats of doubtful others. If the journey was hastily arranged, only for the occasion; and if one went missing, then it'd be still a tough call for the other's sincerity of efforts, given the fact there was no prior meeting of hearts between the two, to mount a campaign of search for it. The lack of credible institutions and traditions of Justice make the whole shenanigans to appear a true believer of fairness, to be self-serving ploy and the whole affair was rendered as a matter of perception.

        Administering justice is like making sausages, is messy affair, to say the least. All the players, from defendants, plaintiffs, and the court's personnel, are engaged in a drama, where the villains were set before the script was done and the heroism is made simply by confirming or rejecting what the docket of indictment was stacked with.

        After all is said and done, what are the options? Real flesh-and-blood are on both sides, as well as real state and otherwise interests. Is there a chance that something meaningful comes out of the charade. No! The regime seems to be interested only in bargaining, while the Westerners are interested in denying any advantages prior to coming to the table. Each will insist on having something, a bone to chew on, to "save face" and/or to affirm power for the ones and sovreignity for the other. In this dirty game of nations, justice will go truly to the dogs! Neither the infected children nor the accused professionals will feel avenged or redeemed, it depends on where one stands. The Libyan regime will spend its chips in getting back to rub shoulders with its former nemeses, and the West will have made a point, once again, recapitulation clauses, of yore, are in vigor, that's, no one of their citizens would be put to endure the savages's laws and traditions.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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