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Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Libyan HIV trial adjourned - again
A court in Libya has adjourned for the 12th time a trial in which six Bulgarians and a Palestinian are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus.

"The hearing was suspended until 2 June to satisfy lawyers' demands for more questioning of the defendants and to allow doctors to examine some of the accused," said Judge Ibrahim Lajnaf.

The defendants, all of them nurses or doctors, were arrested more than two years ago.

They deny the charges, but could face the death penalty if convicted.

It is alleged they injected nearly 400 children at a hospital in the city of Benghazi with contaminated blood products.

Eight Libyans are also on trial for negligence.

Conspiracy theory

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said recently that injecting the children had been part of a foreign conspiracy against his country.

"This case is a horrible crime. It is a catastrophe," he said, adding that some of the defendants had confessed to beingemployed by the American CIA and Israel's Mossad secret service.

The case has caused widespread concern in Bulgaria, where the government has pressed for independent medical evidence to be considered.

.

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