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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Bulgaria leader meets HIV Libyans
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov with Libya's Muammar Gaddafi
Bulgaria's Georgi Parvanov met Col Muammar Gaddafi on Friday
Bulgaria's president has visited children with HIV in Libya, during a trip aimed at saving Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for infecting them.

President Georgi Parvanov toured the hospital in the city of Benghazi - where the outbreak occurred in 1999.

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were convicted of deliberately giving tainted blood to 430 children. Some 50 are believed to have died.

Libya's Supreme Court is due to rule on an appeal by the six on Tuesday.

The nurses and the doctor - who have spent six years in jail - say they were initially tortured into making false confessions.

Angry parents

Mr Parvanov said he had visited the infected children in Benghazi in eastern Libya "to show solidarity" with their plight.

Relatives of the victims said he promised that Bulgaria would help the EU provide the city's hospital with expertise to treat HIV.

After visiting the children, Mr Parvanov returned to the capital Tripoli where he met the five nurses.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam has said the death penalty against the nurses could be dropped if all parties involved reached a consensus.

But as Mr Parvanov arrived in the country on Friday, relatives of the children held a protest at Tripoli airport, calling for the death of the nurses.

Bulgaria has so far opposed paying compensation on the grounds that it would be tantamount to admitting the nurses, who say they are innocent, were in fact guilty.

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23 Dec 01 |  Middle East

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