A federal judge threw out a lawsuit against U.S. officials over medical experiments that saw more than 1,000 Guatemalans deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhea in the late 1940s.
While acknowledging that affair was a "deeply troubling chapter in our nation's history," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said that federal laws do not admit lawsuits in the United States for harm caused in a foreign country.
The lawsuit, filed in the name of the victims and their heirs, came after revelations that officials of the U.S. government infected prisoners, patients with mental problems and orphans with STDs to test the effectiveness of penicillin, a new medication at the time.
The Guatemalan government has determined that more than 2,000 people were infected with syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid in the 1940s, while the United States estimates the number at a little more than 1,300 people.
Walton advised the plaintiffs to direct their pleas to Congress and the executive branch, "who, if they choose, have the ability to grant some modicum of relief to those affected by the Guatemala study."
President Barack Obama apologized in 2010 to the Guatemalan people and expressed his regret for the experiments.
The experiments, which came to light 64 years after the fact thanks to a study by Wellesley College medical historian Susan Reverby, were led by the U.S. Public Health Service. EFE