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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 April 2006, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
May retrial for Libya HIV medics
Bulgarian nurses and President Georgi Parvanov
Bulgarian officials hope the nurses will soon be home
Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV will face a new trial next month, officials say.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry said the trial in Libya would begin on 11 May.

In December, Libya's Supreme Court overturned death sentences and ordered a retrial for the medics who say they were tortured into confessing.

It is alleged that they deliberately used HIV-tainted blood on children at a hospital in Benghazi in the 1990s.

Hospital hygiene claim

The retrial in the Libyan capital Tripoli is scheduled for 11 May, Bulgarian ministry officials said.

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Deputy Foreign Minister Feim Chaushev said that he expected it would have a "just" outcome.

Relatives of children who died protesting in November
Relatives of the children want the death penalty upheld

"The Bulgarian nurses will return home by the end of September, if not earlier," Mr Chaushev said.

The six were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004 for infecting 426 children with HIV. About 50 of the children have since died.

The medics, who have spent almost seven years in prison, say the virus outbreak started before they arrived at the hospital and that they were made scapegoats for poor hygiene.

Their claims of innocence have been backed not only by Bulgaria, but by the European Union and the United States, too.

Parents and relatives of the infected children have protested against the decision to quash their sentences, calling for the death penalty to be carried out.




SEE ALSO:
Libya suspends HIV payout talks
26 Dec 05 |  Africa
Reaction to Libyan court ruling
25 Dec 05 |  Africa
Bulgaria shuns Libyan cash call
18 Aug 05 |  Africa


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