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EU urges Libya to free medical workers held in HIV case

EU urges Libya to free medical workers held in HIV case

Officials of the European Union this week called for the immediate release of six medical workers imprisoned in Libya for allegedly infecting more than 400 children with HIV. The five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor have been in custody in Benghazi since 1999. The EU is "waiting for a gesture" from Libya, said Luxembourg immigration minister Nicolas Schmit, who was speaking on behalf of the European Council. In a visit to the European parliament, Bulgarian foreign minister Solomon Pasi said there are "no indications" the six would be released soon. Franco Frattini, the EU's top justice official, said the case "brings a shadow" on Libya and that the death sentences imposed on the medical workers was "delivered on grounds that were unclear to us." During the trial, Luc Montagnier, who codiscovered HIV, said he believed the children were infected in 1997--more than a year before the Bulgarians were hired--and the cause was likely poor hygiene at the hospital. Libya maintains the children were infected as part of an experiment seeking an AIDS cure. Some human rights groups have said Libya concocted this story to conceal unsafe practices in its medical facilities. A Bulgarian doctor implicated in the same case has been released; however, he remains at the Bulgarian embassy in Tripoli while awaiting permission to leave the country. (AP)

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