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Libya judge adjourns Bulgaria nurses AIDS retrial after denying bail

[JURIST] The Libyan retrial of five Bulgarian nurses [JURIST report] accused of infecting over 400 patients, primarily children, with the HIV virus, resumed on Thursday morning in Tripoli before being adjourned for procedural reasons until June 13. Prosecutors objected to defense lawyer Othman al-Bizanti's motion for the medics to be released on bail and presiding Judge Mahmud Huwaissa ruled [Guardian report] that they will be detained until the trial resumes. Dimitar Tsanchev, a spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, urged the court to resume the trial as quickly as possible. The six defendants had been sentenced to death by firing squad before Libya's Supreme Court overturned [JURIST report] the convictions [JURIST report] in dramatic fashion on Christmas Day 2005 and ordered a retrial.

Last month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed the Libyan government [JURIST report] to release the captive nurses, saying, "this is a humanitarian case and it is time for them to come home." Tension has mounted between Bulgaria and Libya over the situation. Tripoli has hinted that the nurses could be released if a group of international donors pays compensation to the families of the victims. The families of the victims are demanding $10 million for each child allegedly victimized by the nurses, an amount equal to the compensation paid by Libya to the families of the 270 victims of the 1988 Pan Am terrorist bombing over Scotland [BBC backgrounder]. AFP has more.

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