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Bulgaria defends pardon of HIV medics

[JURIST] Bulgarian Prosecutor General Boris Velchev Thursday defended Bulgaria's pardon of six medics [BBC Q&A; JURIST news archive] against Libyan criticism [JURIST report], saying that Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov [official profile] properly exercised his discretionary power to pardon the six defendants, who were within the legal jurisdiction of Bulgaria. On Wednesday, the Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint [Reuters report] accusing Bulgaria of violating a prisoner exchange agreement dating back to 1984, under which the six were supposed to serve their life sentences. The Libyan Association for the Families of HIV-Infected Children has called on the Libyan government to sever diplomatic relations with Bulgaria and expel all Bulgarians residing in Libya.

The medics - five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor - were released by Libyan authorities on Tuesday under the pretense that they would serve their life sentences [JURIST reports] in Bulgaria. Parvanov promptly issued a presidential pardon for the six medics upon their arrival in Bulgaria. The medics, all of whom have consistently maintained their innocence and accuse Libyan authorities of eliciting confessions through torture [HRW report], have indicated they will testify against eleven Libyan police officers facing torture charges [JURIST report] in Bulgaria. AP has more.

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