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Libya to lift death sentence for doctor and nurses in HIV case

Libya to lift death sentence for doctor and nurses in HIV case

According to Seif al-Islam el-Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Gadhafi, Libya will not execute five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were sentenced to death earlier this year for allegedly purposefully infecting more than 400 children with HIV. He said Libya will soon pass new laws limiting capital punishment to a small number of crimes. The younger Gadhafi, who heads a charitable organization helping to negotiate a resolution to the case, said Libya would like to extradite the nurses to Bulgaria, suggesting such extradition might be linked to extradition of a Libyan man serving a life sentence in Scotland for the 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He did not disclose the fate of the Palestinian doctor. Libyan officials also want Bulgaria to pay compensation to the families of the infected children, of whom more than 40 have died. Bulgaria has refused, saying to do so would acknowledge the medical workers' guilt. The medical professionals, arrested in 1999, were accused of knowingly injecting HIV-tainted blood into more than 400 children in a hospital in Benghazi. International AIDS experts testified that the infections were most likely spread by reusing syringes and that the infections began before the medical workers arrived at the hospital. Still, a Libyan court found them guilty last May and sentenced them to death by firing squad. International groups as well as the governments of the United States, Bulgaria, and the European Union have pressed Libya to reverse the death sentences and set the prisoners free. "I think we have to extradite them at a certain stage because we have an extradition treaty with Bulgaria," Gadhafi said. "But first we have to satisfy the families, compensation and a medical solution long-term for their children." Although Gadhafi holds no official position in Libya, he has mediated many international disputes and is believed to have his father's support.

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