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Learning English - Words in the News
16 February, 2007 - Published 14:58 GMT
Kazakhstan HIV legal trial
Map of Kazakhstan
The trial is taking place in the city of Shemkent

The trial of 21 medical workers, allegedly linked to an outbreak of the HIV virus in southern Kazakhstan, has begun. 92 children and 12 mothers have tested positive, and 8 toddlers have died since the virus was discovered in blood banks in early September. Natalia Antelava reports from Shemkent:

Listen to the story

No courtroom in Shemkent was big enough to accommodate this case. The open trial of twenty-one medical workers is taking place in a dilapidated concert hall in one of the administrative buildings. The judge, seated on the stage, is surrounded by a wall of paperwork. There are piles of evidence that allege that Kazakhstan's health care system is to blame for the worst recorded outbreak of HIV this region has ever seen.

Medical workers on trial face criminal charges that range from professional recklessness to corruption, to illegal sale of donor blood. They deny all of these charges. The room was crowded with defendants, their attorneys and representatives of seventy-eight families whose children, they say, contracted the virus after receiving medical treatment and blood transfusions.

The actual number of victims is believed to be much higher. Six months on since the virus was first discovered in one of the blood banks of Shemkent, thousands of children across the country are still being tested. New cases continue to emerge on an almost daily basis.

Legally this is a hugely complicated case and it will take months for the judge to reach the verdict. But the investigation has already revealed how deeply corrupt the health care system here is. And this, many believe, could be one of the main reasons behind the growing rates of HIV across central Asia.

Natalia Antelava, BBC News, Shimkent

Listen to the words

to accommodate
to have enough space for, to house

in a very bad condition, old, run down

a wall of
a very large pile of, here, such a high stack of papers that it looks like a wall beside the judge

claim without definite proof

acting without worrying about the possible results of careless, risky, dangerous behaviour

say it's not true

caught, got

blood banks
medical centres where blood is stored for use in hospital treatments

to emerge
to appear, to be seen

the verdict
the official decision on whether people are guilty or not

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