Five nurses and a doctor are pardoned on their arrival in Sofia.
|In their own words|
Valentina Siropulo, 48, nurse:
“The only thing that kept me alive during all these years – the painful, terrible tortures, the uncertainty, the death sentences – was the belief I cherished in my heart, in my soul, that we are innocent.”
Kristiana Valcheva, 48, nurse:
“What kept me going was the fact that I am innocent and that I believe that if there is no human justice, there is God’s justice and it will come some day.
“In the coming days I will try to learn how to be free. Thank God it is over. I hope to start my life anew.”
Snezhana Dimitrova, 54, nurse:
“I want to forget the horror we lived through, I do not want to talk about it, I even spared my family the details about what we really went through.
“I left there a country with a vicious problem. I regret that I was chosen as one of the scapegoats for solving it. Maybe there was no other way.”
Ashraf Juma Hajuj, Palestinian doctor granted Bulgarian citizenship:
“I waited so long for this moment,” said Snezhana Dimitrova, one of the nurses.
2000 – Trial begins. Medics say their confessions extracted through torture.
September 2003 – French Aids expert testifies epidemic broke out year before the Bulgarians arrived.
May 2004 – Nine Libyans and Bulgarian doctor acquitted, but Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses found guilty and sentenced to death.
December 2005 – Supreme Court overturns death sentences, sending case back to a lower court for retrial.
December 2006 – After seven month retrial, six medics are again found guilty and sentenced to death.
July 22 – An EU team, including wife of the French president, travel to Libya to press for release of the health workers.
July 24 – The six arrive in Bulgaria and are pardoned by Bulgaria’s president.
“I can quite simply confirm to you that neither Europe nor France have made the slightest financial contribution to Libya,” he told reporters in Paris.
In Tripoli, Libyan officials said European countries promised millions of dollars to a fund created to compensate families the infected children.
“There was only $4 million in the fund but after negotiations with Ferrero-Waldner, the amount … became $400m, extended by the EU,” said Saleh Abdul-Salam, director of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations.
The foundation is headed by Seif al-Islam, Gaddafi‘s son, and manages the fund.
Shalqam, the Libyan foreign minister, said Libya and the EU agreed to develop a “full partnership”, with the Europeans promising a package of aid to develop Libyan hospitals and other infrastructure