Libya commutes death sentences of foreign AIDS medics to life in prison

[JURIST] Sources close to Libya's Supreme Judiciary Council told the Associated Press Tuesday that the death sentences [JURIST report] of six foreign medics [JURIST news archive] accused of knowingly infecting over 400 Libyan patients with the HIV virus have been commuted to life in prison. The families of the infected patients dropped their calls for the execution of the workers after each received $1 million in compensation as a settlement [JURIST report], negotiated by the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity [official website]. Seif al Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, told France's Le Figaro newspaper [media website, in French] that Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic were all involved [Le Figaro report, in French] in procuring the funds. The nations all denied sending money to the families, but the Foreign Ministry of Bulgaria [official website] admitted considering sending funds for humanitarian aid as part of an international effort.

The Libyan Supreme Court upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] only last week. Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev [official profile] said the Supreme Judiciary Council's involvement so soon after the court decision showed the effect of international pressure on Libya. The medics - five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor - have been imprisoned since 1999 and have consistently maintained their innocence, saying that they were 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 medics are innocent and were tortured into admitting guilt [HRW report]. AP has more.

 

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