Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good news for falsely-accused medics in Libya

Libya Lifts H.I.V. Case Death Sentence

Published: July 17, 2007

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- The death sentences for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV have been commuted to life in prison, Libya's foreign minister said Tuesday.

The ruling came after the families of the children each received $1 million and agreed to drop their demand for the execution of the six, who deny having infected more than 400 children and say their confessions were extracted under torture.

Libya remains under intense international pressure to free the medical workers, and Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam said Tripoli was willing to consider the medics' deportation to Bulgaria. He said the negotiations would take place within ''the legal framework and political context'' between the two countries.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Kamen Mihov, said requests would be made Wednesday to have the medics leave Libya shortly. They have been jailed since 1999.

But the medics' main Libyan defense lawyer, Osman al-Bizant, told the Al-Jazeera television network that their deportation would depend on ''whether there is the possibility of carrying out the punishment there (in Bulgaria).''

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