At least 56 of the infected children have already died; but Bulgaria insists that its medical workers were innocent and used as scapegoats by Libyan authorities who wanted to cover up poor hygiene at the hospital.

International health experts have also said that the children were infected because of unsanitary conditions at the hospital long before the arrival of the medics.

On Monday, the Bulgarian press expressed the hope that the nurses and the Palestinian doctor, who was recently granted a Bulgarian passport, could return home within days.

Zorka Anachkova, the mother of one of the nurses - Kristiana Valcheva - told Al Jazeera: "It has been proven that she is innocent - not only her but all of them.

"Even before they arrived in Libya there was an HIV epidemic there - that's been proven by virologists - all the evidence points towards their innocence.

"I could never understand why they were given a death sentence.

"[Kristiana's] been a human pawn in political game."

Compensation

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian government refused to comment on the announcement that a compensation deal had been struck between the families of the children and the charitable Kadhafi foundation run by the Libyan leader's son, Seif al-Islam.

The foundation acted as an intermediary between the families of the infected children and a special fund set by Libya, Bulgaria and the European Union for collecting money for the victims.

According to sources close to the fund, the money totals about $176m.

But Salah Abdessalem, the foundation's director, said that the families had accepted $1m for each victim.

Dimitar Tsanchev, the Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesman, said: "Bulgaria is not directly involved in this agreement."

The Bulgarian authorities have always said that paying compensation will amount to recognising guilt.