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Monday, 28 February, 2000, 13:51 GMT
Libya postpones HIV trial
Muammar Gaddafi
The Bulgarian president appealed to Colonel Gaddafi
A court in Libya has adjourned the trial of six Bulgarian health workers, who are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV, the virus which can lead to Aids.

The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday but was postponed at the request of a defence lawyer, who said he needed more time to prepare.

The trial will resume in early April.

The Bulgarian medics, five nurses and an anaesthetist, were detained in 1998 after almost 400 children were given infected blood at a hospital in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city.

The 1,600-page indictment charges them with intentionally supplying the contaminated blood, according to officials in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia.

The indictment says 23 of the children have died.

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov welcomed the decision to postpone the trial, calling it "a move of goodwill that will help find the truth".

He had previously urged the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to intervene in the case.

Bulgarian officials say the medics will face a special court under laws that include an element of Islamic Sharia law.

They could face the death penalty if convicted.

Not forgotten

Bulgaria sent Justice Minister Teodossyi Simeonov and Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev to Libya on Saturday

The medical staff were reportedly allowed to meet but not speak to officials.

Mr Filchev told them: "Bulgaria has not forgotten you, we are doing everything possible to help you. The government is making efforts to resolve the situation."

Mr Filchev said the Bulgarians were, "well, in good health, self-possessed, tense but not downcast."

On Sunday, about 100 relatives of the medics attended a church service to pray on behalf of their relations.

A petition was also signed - intended to be sent to the Libyan leader to ask for the release of the accused.

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28 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Appeal over Libya Aids trial
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