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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Libya delays medics court ruling
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
Libya's Supreme Court has delayed a ruling on an appeal against the death penalty handed down to five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor.

The foreign medics were found guilty by Libyan courts last year of infecting more than 400 children with HIV.

The case has caused concern amongst foreign leaders, who have called for the release of the accused.

But angry relatives want the death sentence to be implemented if their demands for compensation are not met.

The six Libyan judges had been due to rule on Tuesday after two months of deliberations.

Their decision is now set for 15 November.

'Biased judgement'

The Supreme Court will either reaffirm the death penalty verdict against the group or allow the case to be retried in a criminal court.

The group were found guilty last year of deliberately infecting the Libyan children with HIV in the coastal town of Benghazi.

The defence lawyers of the foreign medics are demanding a retrial based on alleged false confessions extracted under torture, illegitimate material evidence and what they described as "biased judgement" by the criminal court.

The prosecuting lawyers insist their evidence is credible and want the Supreme Court to finalise the death penalty verdict.

The foreign medics claim they are innocent but angry relatives of the infected children believe they are guilty and want to see the death penalty implemented.

Libyan officials indicate that if the families reach a compensation settlement with Bulgaria or the European Union, the death sentences against the foreign medics may be dropped.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Families of the victims want the Libyan leader to stay firm



SEE ALSO:
Libya's Bulgarian medics appeal
29 Mar 05 |  Africa
Libya death sentence for medics
06 May 04 |  Africa
Medics 'did not spread Aids'
04 Sep 03 |  Africa
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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