Netherlands Court Awards Monetary Damages to Palestinian for Libyan Torture

Dr. Ashraf Al Hajuj

This March a court in the Netherlands awarded 1 million euros to a Palestinian plaintiff against 12 Libyan officials for torture and inhumane treatment over eight years in a Libyan prison.

The plaintiff, Dr. Ashraf al-Hajuji, who now lives in the Netherlands, along with five Bulgarian nurses had been charged in Libya in 2000 with deliberately infecting over 400 children with HIV-AIDS. In 2004 they were convicted and sentenced to death by a firing squad.  A year later the convictions were overturned and a new trial was ordered after Bulgaria agreed to establish a fund for the families of the infected children. In December 2006, however, Dr. Hajuji and the nurses were again convicted and sentenced to death, but in July 2007 their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after the children’s relatives agreed to accept compensation of $1 million per child. In 2007 the doctor and nurses were pardoned and released after French President Sarkozy negotiated with Col. Muammar Gaddafi . Gaddafi admitted they had suffered horrible torture in Libyan prisons.

This may be the first time another legal system has granted a civil monetary damages award to a foreigner due to violation of international human rights norms by other foreigners in a foreign country similar to the awards made by U.S. courts in civil lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute.

In the meantime, Bulgarian prosecutors are still investigating what happened in Libya for a possible criminal prosecution of those responsible for the torture.

Published by


As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

One thought on “Netherlands Court Awards Monetary Damages to Palestinian for Libyan Torture”

  1. Comment: Libyans Sue Former U.K. Foreign Secretary in U.K. Court Over Alleged Complicity in Libyan Torture

    A former Libyan dissident, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, and his wife have sued Jack Straw, former U.K. Foreign Minister, for money damages in a U.K. court. The complaint alleges that Straw authorized U.K.’s intelligence agency, M16, to assist the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in detaining the plaintiffs in Thailand in 2004 and having them transferred to Libya where they were tortured.

    We will have to see whether this case results in liability similar to cases in the U.S. under its Alien Tort Statute. Presumably Straw will assert some kind of immunity defense as a government minister.

    Cobain, Jack Straw faces legal action over Libya rendition claims, Guardian (April 18, 2012),

Leave a Reply