World

Lawsuit over U.S. Guatemala syphilis experiment dismissed

A Washington judge has dismissed a lawsuit against U.S. officials by Guatemalans who had been subjected to sexually transmitted diseases by U.S. researchers in the 1940s.

Judge calls study a 'deeply troubling chapter in our nation's history'

U.S. ambassador to Guatemala Arnold Chacon attends the release of a report on experiments on Guatemalans by U.S. researchers between 1946 and 1948, at the National Palace in Guatemala City Dec. 7, 2011. The report showed that hundreds of Guatemalans were infected with venereal diseases, gonorrhoea, syphilis and chancroid during experiments performed by American doctors in Guatemala. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

A Washington judge has dismissed a lawsuit against U.S. officials by Guatemalans who had been subjected to sexually transmitted diseases by U.S. researchers in the 1940s.

The suit, on behalf of the victims and their heirs, came after revelations that Guatemalan prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and orphans had been deliberately infected without their consent. The researchers were studying the effects of penicillin.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton acknowledged that the study was a "deeply troubling chapter in our nation's history." But he ruled that federal law bars claims against the U.S. based on injuries suffered in a foreign country.

Guatemalan officials said last year that they have found 2,082 people were involved in the experiments to infect subjects with syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. U.S. officials put the figure at 1,308 subjects.