Libya angered by medics pardon

Libya threatens to cut ties with Bulgaria over the pardoning of six health workers.

The six health workers were pardonedupon their return to Bulgaria [AFP]
The six health workers were pardonedupon their return to Bulgaria [AFP]
“We have requested Libya cut all relations with Bulgaria immediately and to stop dealing with the Bulgarian companies that are working in Libya and deport all the Bulgarian workers in Libya,” he said.

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, an online Arabic newspaper, said on Friday that Libya had asked the Arab League to “cut all diplomatic relations with Bulgaria” over the incident.
Abdel-Rahman Shalqam, the Libyan foreign minister, confirmed the report, saying: “We have sent a memo to the Arab League to review its position toward Bulgaria.”
Amr el-Kahky, reporting for Al Jazeera from Libya, said: “The Libyan public are feeling very strongly towards the pardon issued by the Bulgarian president.”
“The feelings of the families is that they were let down and betrayed,” he said.
The move angered Tripoli, which summoned a Bulgarian diplomat in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, on Wednesday in protest, saying it was not in compliance with an extradition treaty between the two countries.
Sofia brushed aside the protests the following day, saying there was “absolutely no obstacle whatsoever to the pardoning of the Bulgarian medics”.
Sentenced to death
Libyan authorities allowed them to return on Tuesday to Bulgaria, where they were due to serve life prison terms but they were immediately pardoned by Georgy Parvanov, the Bulgarian president.
The medics were detained in Libya in 1999, charged with deliberately infecting 438 children at a hospital in Benghazi, where they worked, with the HIV virus, which causes Aids.
Fifty-six of the children later died.
The five nurses and one doctor were sentenced to death in 2004 on the basis of confessions by the doctor and two of the nurses who later retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture.
The death sentences against the six were commuted to life in prison before the medics were extradited to Bulgaria on Tuesday.
As part of a deal to return the medics to Bulgaria, the EU normalised its relations with Libya and pledged partnerships in the fields of health, education, border control and the upkeep of the country’s many archaeological sites.
This was in addition to a separate compensation deal that gave the families of each of the children infected with the HIV virus about one million dollars.
The Czech Republic, the Gulf state of Qatar and Bulgaria all contributed to the fund , Libya said on Saturday.
“I thank Qatar for its role in the nurses’ case. European countries including Bulgaria and the Czech Republic contributed to the fund for the infected children,” Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, the Libyan prime minister, told reporters.
“France pledged to equip Benghazi hospital and provide trained personnel for five years. It also agreed to train some 50 Libyan doctors.”
The money came from a $460m loan due to be repaid as and when donors make resources available, a humanitarian body said on Friday, adding that the pledged fund had come from 31 different sources, including Libya.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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