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Attorneys for a group of Guatemalans have sued top US officials, accusing them of "intentionally" experimenting on them in the 1940's and infecting them with syphilis.

Hundreds of Guatemalan prisoners, psychiatric patients and orphans were infected in a program to study penicillin.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday by lawyers for seven Guatemalan plaintiffs. But there is a high possibility that the number of the plaintiffs could reach to hundreds.

Last year, the United States apologized for the "reprehensible" experiments, according to state-run BBC.

The Obama administration, however, has not yet responded to a request for an out-of-court compensation settlement.

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The experiments took place between 1946 and 1948 and around 700 Guatemalan nationals were used to test the efficiency of penicillin as a treatment and a preventative agent.

Evidence of the program was exposed by Professor Susan Reverby at Wellesley College in the US.

Reverby believes the then Guatemalan government gave permission for the tests but the people infected were unaware they were being experimented on.

In the experiments, researchers bribed care workers to let them inject their charges, while prisoners were encouraged to sleep with infected prostitutes.