Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Two Happy Endings

There are two stories that I've been sort of following in recent days, related but different. The first one is about the group of medical professionals they've been calling the "Tripoli Six." I don't know what really happened, but they were mostly Europeans who were working in Libya, when the Libyan government accused them of intentionally infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus. They have been in prison for eight years.

This was a crazy accusation, nobody outside of Libya believed it, but they were tried and convicted and sentenced to be executed. European governments were negotiating with Libya, and it sounds like Moammar Ghadhafi knew he had a good deal going. In fact he ended up with a settlement of hundreds of millions of dollars and other goodies:
LONDON - They went to Libya in search of better-paying jobs. They ended up as pawns in a high-stakes game of geopolitical horse-trading.

After enduring more than eight years in prison, including the last three under a death sentence, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were freed Tuesday despite their convictions for allegedly infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV -- charges most of the world scorned as a frame-up.

But their release came only after the government of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi negotiated a package of concessions that ranged from $400 million in cash for the sick children's families to a pledge to help restore Libya's archeological sites.

Behind the deal, analysts suggested, was Gadhafi's need to save face at home, hence the cash settlement to the families of the victims. But he also needed to bring an end to an affair that had brought his country international condemnation and stood in the way of political and economic opportunities for his nation in Europe. Long nightmare ends for 6
Weird, crazy story. In the middle of it all, the Bush administration decided to once again establish diplomatic relations with Libya for the first time since 1979 -- read about that HERE. There were many words of praise for Libya from our Secretary of State.

Anyway, it will be interesting to hear more about the Tripoli 6 and what really happened there, once they're free to talk.

They are lucky to escape with their lives. They were deported to Bulgaria, supposedly to be imprisoned there, but the President of Bulgaria pardoned all of them as soon as they landed.

The other story is one that I wrote about a while back, the medical staff in New Orleans who were arrested for murder for their roles in the deaths of some terminally ill patients in a flooded, overheated hospital without hope of supplies, during Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday, the grand jury decided not to prosecute the doctor in charge.
A grand jury Tuesday refused to indict a doctor accused of killing four elderly patients in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, ending a case that inflamed public opinion here, turned the doctor into something of a folk hero and demoralized an already-shaken medical community.

The doctor, Anna M. Pou, had been a respected medical professor on the staff of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. The Orleans Parish grand jury cleared her of accusations that she had deliberately injected the critically ill patients with a lethal combination of morphine and another drug in a sweltering hospital that had been without power for days after the storm. Charges against two nurses accused of assisting her had earlier been dropped in exchange for their testimony for the prosecution.

Dr. Pou, 51, has maintained her innocence since her arrest a year ago. Medical ethicists have said that at the very least the accusation of homicide against her raised difficult questions of what constituted appropriate treatment during a crisis; some said charges should never have been brought against her.

On Tuesday the American Medical Association released a statement praising the grand jury’s decision.

Trembling and tearful at a news conference, Dr. Pou said she had been through a "very challenging and painful" time and now planned to resume her practice after teaching for the last year. Describing how she had received the news, she said she was "at home with my husband and I fell to my knees and thanked God."

She declined to discuss precisely what happened at the hospital after the hurricane, citing pending civil suits against her by three of the patients’ families. In previous television interviews she has said that she had simply tried to make patients at the hospital "comfortable." No Indictment in Katrina Deaths

I suppose this is a kind of situation that governments and law enforcement people have to get involved with. Some people died, some people were present and those people had to make the most difficult choices imaginable. Somebody had to decide afterwards whether they made the correct choices or not, I guess that's how it works. I'd just hate to have to be those doctors and nurses who were there that week.
Attorney General Charles Foti of Louisiana, who had ordered Dr. Pou and two nurses, Lori Budo and Cheri Landry, to be arrested last year on charges of second-degree murder, defended the case Tuesday, saying independent expert pathologists had reviewed it favorably before it was brought.

"I regret their decision," Mr. Foti said of the grand jurors, while criticizing the district attorney’s office for not calling on certain witnesses to testify.

But the district attorney in New Orleans, Eddie Jordan, told reporters, "I agreed with the grand jury."

From the beginning the case has transcended the simple accusation of murder, coming to encapsulate for many here the horrific conditions and choices that prevailed in the days after the storm -- and particularly on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, the day the deaths occurred, and the last day before large-scale help arrived in New Orleans.

The temperature at Memorial Medical Center was over 100 degrees, five feet of water lapped its lower floors, patients were dying, and Dr. Pou and the nurses were among the few medical professionals who had stayed behind to confront the hurricane’s aftermath at its worst flash point -- the hospitals.

Patients had to be squeezed through a hole and carried up many flights of stairs to the roof to be airlifted out. There were at least 34 deaths at Memorial as patients and doctors waited to be rescued from the marooned hospital.

So there you go -- two stories with happy endings. There are still lawsuits pending in New Orleans, but at least these people will be free.

Well, my niece is getting married in Tucson this weekend, so my son and I are going to fly out there to grace the affair with our presence. I might have Internet access out there, I don't know, it's a whirlwind trip, you know, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, reception, seeing people I haven't seen for a long time, so I might not be posting anything till next week. I'm going to enjoy the wedding and the warm Tucson sunshine, if something happens while I'm gone I'll hear about it next week.


Blogger Orin Ryssman said...


Have you ever had In-N-Out Burger? They have a location now in Tucson...

Check it out...

July 26, 2007 5:38 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Funny about that place-some of them are very nice- Davis, CA(home also of the Redrum Burger) but some are scary-food wise(I think the one we stopped at somewhere in Gold Country had the same grease on the grill from the day it opened). I no longer eat meat but got my family T-shirts from In-n-Out on my last trip to Davis.

July 27, 2007 8:38 PM  

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