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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Bulgarian nurses 'not tortured'
The Bulgarian and Palestinian health workers sit in a cage in the court in a 2003 photo
The nurses and the Palestinian doctor say they are innocent
Nine policemen and a doctor have been found not guilty of torturing five Bulgarian nurses to extract confessions, say Libyan officials.

The nurses and a Palestinian doctor were sentenced to death for deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus.

Imprisoned since 1999, the six maintain their innocence and say they were forced to confess.

The court said the evidence against the policemen was too weak to convict them.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the courtroom was packed as the Libyan judge called out the names of all the 10 defendants on trial and announced they were found innocent of all torture charges against them.

One of the lawyers defending the accused, Mr Abdullah al-Maghrabi, said he was satisfied with the acquittal and that justice had been served.

Surprised

Mr Maghrabi went on to say that they would now pursue a lawsuit for financial compensation from the foreign medics and the Bulgarian government, and possibly Libya's interior ministry.

The lawyer representing the foreign medics, Osman Bizanti, said he was surprised with the acquittal which he says they may appeal against to the Supreme Court.

The five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor are waiting for a Supreme Court decision on their appeal against last year's death penalty verdict - which is expected in November.

About 50 of the 430 children infected have died.

Bulgaria's president visited Libya last month.

Bulgaria has so far refused to pay the compensation Libya has demanded on the grounds that it would be tantamount to admitting the nurses were guilty.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Parents of many of the infected children favour the police



SEE ALSO:
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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