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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 17:15 GMT
Gaddafi will not free Aids medics
The Bulgarian and Palestinian health workers sit in a cage in the court in a 2003 photo
The medics have been sentenced to death by firing squad
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has vowed not to pardon five Bulgarian nurses facing the death penalty for allegedly injecting children with the HIV virus.

"How can we free the murderers of children?" he asked, in a speech to an Arab League summit in Algiers.

"Everyone coming from the West asks me to release the Bulgarian nurses. That means when our children are dying, it's not important," he said.

The nurses and a Palestinian doctor insist they are innocent.

They have spent five years in detention.

According to the Benghazi court which issued the death sentence, the six deliberately infected 426 Libyan children as part of an experiment to find a cure for the deadly disease. Forty-seven of them later died.

Meanwhile, the trial of 10 Libyan policemen, who the nurses claim tortured them into confessing, has been postponed for a second time.

A Tripoli judge adjourned the case until 26 April due to absences among defence team members.

Compensation

Two of the nurses and the doctor, who had initially confessed, later said they had been beaten and given electric shocks by police officers until they admitted their guilt.

The controversial affair has sparked protests in Europe and the US, and is one of the major obstacles in Libya's bid to overcome its diplomatic isolation.

In December last year, Libya said it would consider freeing the nurses if Bulgaria was ready to compensate the victims.

But Bulgaria has since refused, on the grounds that a payout would be tantamount to admitting the medics' guilt.

EU external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has said that a conclusion to the HIV affair "would also be very good for the Libyans".





SEE ALSO:
Libya may review Aids sentences
06 Dec 04 |  Africa
Libya death sentence for medics
06 May 04 |  Africa
Medics 'did not spread Aids'
04 Sep 03 |  Africa
Libya pursues Bulgarian Aids case
04 Jun 02 |  Middle East
Libya court rejects HIV plot charges
17 Feb 02 |  Middle East
Libya delays Aids case verdicts
23 Dec 01 |  Middle East


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