Palestinian under death sentence in Libya: Dr. Ashraf Ahmad El-Hajouj

A. Clare Brandabur
May 2004

Recently I learned that the Palestinian doctor under sentence of death in Libya is the cousin of my dear friend and former student in Khan Younis Camp in Gaza. Both are 1948 refugees from Tel Atermos in the southern region of Palestine not far from Bersheba.

His cousin As'ad El-Hajouj said that the condemned prisoner, Ashraf Ahmad El-Hajouj, had finished his medical degree and begun an internship at Al-Fateh Hospital in Ben Ghazi. Two months into his interneship this nightmare began: he was arrested, accused of complicity, together with several Bulgarian nurses, in the alleged attempt to kill children in Al-Fateh Hospital by injecting them with contaminated blood. Dozens of children had become infected with HIV-AIDS, some of them have subsequently died.

Of course Dr. El-Hajouj had nothing whatever to do with the acquisition of this blood, as neither had the Bulgarian nurses. All have been imprisoneed and severely tortured for five years. Dr. El-Hajouj has lost an eye, and one of his hands has been paralyzed from torture. Like the nurses, he has been subjected to degrading and life-threatening abuse. His father has been dismissed from his job, his sisters from their schools, and the whole family has been subjected to attacks in public. They are literally destitute, unable even to leave their house and, as Palestinians, have no one to protect or assist them. If Dr. El-Hajouj is executed, the family will remain without support and without any means of leaving Libya.

As'ad has asked me to contact human rights groups, Palestinian support groups, etc., to try to bring some awareness and practical assistance for this extremely urgent case. Meanwhile I request your input and ideas for networking and bringing the case of Dr. Ashraf El-Hajouj to authorites who are in a position to intervene on his behalf and also to provide some support for his family.

Mr. As'ad El-Hajouj, cousin of the accused Dr. Ashraf Ahmad El-Hajouj, has been able with the help of the Palestine Authority in Ramallah, and the Red Cross in Gaza, to secure Palestinian Passports for the family in Libya.