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Bulgaria calls for speedy appeal in Libya AIDS trial

[JURIST] Bulgaria has urged a speedy appeal in the retrial of five Bulgarian nurses [JURIST report] and one Palestinian doctor accused of infecting over 400 Libyan patients, primarily children [JURIST news archive]. The medics were convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] to death in their second trial on December 19 after the initial guilty verdict was overturned by the Libyan Supreme Court in 2005 and a retrial ordered [JURIST reports]. The six plan to appeal their convictions and sentences before Libya's Supreme Court in what could be the last appeal permitted under Libyan law.

Bulgaria and its allies, including the US [JURIST report] and the European Union, contend that the nurses are innocent and have said they have been tortured into admitting guilt in the case [BBC trial timeline; BBC Q&A]. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov [official profile] and Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev [official profile] urged [press release] Libyan authorities "to intervene immediately and in the name of the simplest justice to rapidly reconsider and reject these absurd penalties and to release the Bulgarian medical workers and the Palestinian doctor."

Libya, however, has rejected criticism of the trial which Libya feels is politically motivated and biased against Muslim values. A statement by Libya's Foreign Ministry quoted by AP stated that "the positions expressed by the Bulgarian government, the European Union and others are political stances which are biased toward certain values which are not far away from inciting wars, conflicts, hostilities between civilizations and religions." Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin [official profile], who met [press release] with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week, says Bulgaria would continue to seek a diplomatic resolution to the case. AP has more.

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