Libya seeks death penalty in HIV trial

Bulgarian medics may face the death penalty if convicted of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus.

    Five female nurses and a male doctor have been held since 1999

    A Libyan prosecutor has also demanded about $10 million in compensation per child, comparing the amounts to those Libya had recently agreed to pay to the families of the 270 victims in the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    The five female nurses and a male doctor, detained in Libya since early 1999, have been accused of deliberately infecting some 400 Libyan children at a Benghazi hospital with blood products contaminated with the virus that can cause AIDS. Some of the children have since died

    "At today's court session, the Libyan prosecutor requested death sentences for the six Bulgarian medics. The speeches for the defence were postponed for the next session, set for September 22," said a Bulgarian radio correspondent in Benghazi.

    'No panic, nor optimism'

    Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said after the court session that "there was no room neither for panic nor for excessive optimism".

    Several Libyan officers who allegedly had used torture against some of the Bulgarian medics at a Tripoli prison are also tried as part of the medics trial.

    In Libya, relatives of the contaminated children have demanded severe sentences, while in Bulgaria officials reacted with alarm when two of the nurses told the People's Court two years ago they had been tortured while in a Libyan prison.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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