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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

17 Jailed for Infecting Babies With HIV but 4 are Released

SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh court jailed 17 health workers on Wednesday for infecting dozens of babies with HIV but provoked outrage from parents for sparing four senior officials from incarceration.

Ten babies have died as a result of being infected.

The 21 doctors and officials went on trial in the southern city of Shymkent in January on charges of criminal negligence for allowing the children to be infected, mainly through blood transfusions in hospitals.

Judge Ziyadinkhan Pirniyaz gave suspended sentences to senior health official Nursulu Tasmagambetova and three others.

The remaining defendants received jail sentences ranging from a few months to eight years.

Tension in the courtroom exploded when the children's parents shouted "Death penalty to Tasmagambetova!" and tried to break through a police cordon in an attempt to reach the defendants. Some fell to the floor in fits of emotion. A court doctor took the pulse of a woman in her 30s who seemed unconscious.

As a police van drove the convicts away from the court, the babies' distressed relatives, some in tears, threw stones and plastic bottles at the van and shouted "Death!" and "What for?"

"This is not what I call justice," said Kanat Alseitov, whose son was among the infected children. "I didn't think it would be this way. Those who got suspended sentences are the most senior ones and thus most responsible for all this."

The case marked a new front in the spread of the virus that causes AIDS in Kazakhstan, where the World Bank says the number of registered cases has almost doubled each year since 2000.