An Internet audiotape purported to be from an al-Qaida operative who escaped from an Afghanistan prison accuses Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of collaborating in the infection of more than 400 children with HIV.
The tape from Abu Yahia al-Libi, who escaped from Bagram prison in 2005, appeared Friday on an Islamic militant Web site. Its authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted with the logo of al-Qaida's media production wing, al-Sahaba, and a notice that said it was the voice of al-Libi and which displayed his photograph.
Al-Libi, whose nom de guerre means 'the Libyan' in Arabic, spoke at length in the 17-minute recording about the case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor whom a Libyan court has condemned to death for deliberately infecting children at a Benghazi hospital with HIV.
Supported by international protests, the defense is appealing the verdict, handed down in December. Scientific witnesses have testified that HIV was active in the hospital before the defendants started working there in 1998 and blamed the infection of unhygienic conditions. About 50 of the infected children are reported to have died of AIDS.
"How could have those killers been able to perpetrate this crime against such a large number of innocent children without the knowledge of Libya's tyrant Gadhafi?" al-Libi asked on the tape.
"This crime is as a living example of the negligence of treacherous regimes toward their own, helpless people," he added.