Libyans outraged at Bulgaria pardon

Families of the infected children say the medics should be re-arrested by Interpol.

    The Bulgarian president pardoned the health workers immediately after they arrived in Sofia [AFP]

    "The families expressed their condemnation and resentment at the recklessness of the Bulgarian nation when the Bulgarian president pardoned the nurses," the Libyan Association for the Families of HIV-Infected Children said.
     
    Sentences commuted
     
    Last week, Libya commuted death sentences against the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian-born doctor to life in prison following a financial settlement of $1m each to 460 HIV victims' families.
     
    The medics, who spent eight years in jail, had always said they were innocent and were tortured to confess.
     

    "I am really disappointed with the whole Arab world and how they have taken our case"

    Ashraf Alhajouj, released Palestinian doctor

    The heath workers, who have been receiving medical treatment at a presidential facility, held a news conference in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, to give their comments on their ordeal on Wednesday.
     
    Ashraf Alhajouj, the released doctor, said: "I was told I would be transferred to Bulgaria - I said 'for sure' as I no longer wanted to be in the Arab world.
     
    "I am really disappointed with the whole Arab world and how they have taken our case.
     
    "Only foreigners are accused in this case ... because they are Christians.
     
    "It is a matter of time, I don't know when, only God knows when, and the truth will come out."
     
    Debt proposal
     
    The Bulgarian prime minister earlier said Libya's foreign debt to the country may be written off.
     
    Sergei Stanishev said the gesture would be part of humanitarian aid measures rather than "paying ransom" for the release of six health workers.
     
    If Sofia writes off the Libyan debt, accrued for arms deliveries and technical assistance during the communist era, the money would be recycled into an international fund set up to help the families of the HIV victims.
     
    The six health workers were flown to Sofia on a French presidential jet after the EU, which Bulgaria joined in January, brokered a last-minute deal on medical aid and political ties with Libya.
     
    Bulgaria and its Western allies have said the six were innocent and suggested that not freeing them would hurt Libya's efforts to emerge from decades of diplomatic isolation.
     
    Sarkozy visit
     
    Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, arrived in Libya on Wednesday to seek to further French business interests in Libya and deepen diplomatic ties before flying on to Senegal and Gabon.
     
     

    Sarkozy, left, is welcomed
    by Gaddafi at Tripoli [AFP]

    Sarkozy has said he wants to help Libya return to the "concert of nations".
     
    Christine Lagarde, the economy minister, said on Wednesday: "We are going to develop commercial relations with a country with which there is no reason that we would not have this kind of relationship."
     
    Sarkozy will be keen to maintain France's influence in Libya as other Western powers beat a path to Tripoli and Washington gradually steps up its diplomatic presence there.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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