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Libya court clears foreign AIDS medics in slander trial

[JURIST] A Libyan court acquitted six foreign medics [JURIST news archive] of criminal defamation Sunday. The five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor, previously convicted [JURIST report] of knowingly infecting over 400 Libyan patients with the HIV virus and sentenced to death, faced defamation charges stemming from the medics' accusations that their confessions were obtained by torture [HRW report] by Libyan police officer Jumaa al-Mishri and doctor Abdul-Majid al-Shoul. Al-Mishri and al-Shoul sued the foreign medics, seeking $4 million in compensation. The Libyan court did not elaborate its reasoning for its decision.

The six medics have been imprisoned in Libya [JURIST news archive] since 1999 but have consistently maintained their innocence, saying that they are being scapegoated for unsanitary conditions in the Libyan hospitals where they worked. Bulgaria and its allies, including the US [JURIST report] and the European Union, contend that the nurses are innocent. The death sentence against the medics is still under appeal [JURIST report], but the a top Libyan official has said that the six will not be executed [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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