A Libyan court has sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death for deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus that causes Aids.
Western countries and medical experts, as well as family and friends of the accused, have criticised the trial as unfair and politically motivated.
GEORGY PARVANOV, BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, SERGEY STANISHEV, PRIME MINISTER
The whole court case was compromised and covers up the real cause that sparked the Aids epidemics in Benghazi.
We urge the Libyan authorities to intervene at once, speedily review this ruling, overturn the absurd sentences and release the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.
IVAILO KALFIN, BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
The decision is deeply disappointing.
The Libyan court did not take into consideration all the proof of the nurses'
innocence. The nurses have the right to justice in Libya.
GEORGI PIRINSKI, BULGARIA'S SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT
We categorically condemn the death sentences.
The doctor and nurses have spent the last seven years in custody
Convicting innocent people to death covers the real perpetrators of the Aids epidemic and deepens the tragedy.
We urge the international community to condemn the court's decision categorically and join the appeal for Libya to release the defendants immediately.
EU JUSTICE AND SECURITY COMMISSIONER FRANCO FRATTINI
My first reaction is great disappointment. I am shocked by
this kind of decision. I strongly hope that somehow the
Libyan authorities will rethink this decision.
It's a negative message for the European Union. I cannot
imagine that the death sentences will be carried out
JOHANNES LAITENBERGER , EU COMMISSION SPOKESMAN
The European Commission simply cannot accept this verdict.
As the Presidency of the Council, and as the member-states, the European Commission reiterates its serious concerns with regard to the basis on which the accused persons were prosecuted, their treatment while in custody, and the lengthy delays in the process.
TSVETANKA SIROPOULO, SISTER-IN-LAW OF NURSE VALENTINA
What just happened was to be expected.
I am sure they will be released, but it will take time. It is so sad that so many years have passed and they are still in jail.
ZORKA ANACHKOVA, MOTHER OF NURSE CHRISTIANA VALCHEVA
I expected this. I am so sick I had to take pills today to go through this new ordeal.
We are all heart-broken. Can someone tell me what evil Christiana has ever done?
POLINA DIMITROVA, DAUGHTER OF NURSE SNEZHANA DIMITROVA
This is such a disgrace. I simply cannot believe that such injustice can be done.
It was not enough they sentenced innocent people, but they now confirm it. I can only imagine how they
(the condemned) feel - this must have crushed them.
GEORGE JOFFE, MAGHREB EXPERT, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY
It was absolutely predictable on political ground and had
nothing to do with the facts of the case.
I'm not surprised. I think now the real negotiations will begin, to find a way either arranging compensation for the
families of the infected children, or a pardon for the nurses.
There are two reasons for this. Number one, it gives Gaddafi a much better lever to force negotiations for
compensation, and number two, it's a way of appeasing the families in Benghazi.
There will be a price to pay. It depends on what the international community is prepared to pay. But that's still not
clear. It will be almost certainly in the form of humanitarian compensation.
JOINT STATEMENT, THE WORLD MEDICAL
ASSOCIATION AND INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF NURSES
We are appalled by the decision of the Libyan court to sentence the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor to death.
Today's decision turns a blind eye to the science and evidence that points clearly to the fact that these children were infected well before the medical workers arrived at the hospital.
How many children will go on dying in Libyan hospitals while the Government ignores the root of the problem?
If there is any hope of justice for these nurses and this doctor, we appeal to the Supreme Court to again quash these death sentences.
MARTIN REES, UK ROYAL SOCIETY PRESIDENT
This verdict is extremely concerning.
We hope that this decision will be overturned on appeal, particularly in light of the latest scientific evidence which suggests that the children were not deliberately infected while in hospital.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN PHILIP LUTHER
We firmly condemn the death sentences and ask the Libyan authorities to withdraw them.
We've had serious concerns about both this retrial and the previous, original trial of the six
health professionals and we are therefore also concerned that they may be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned merely because
of their nationality, used as scapegoats in this tragic case.