Talks between Bulgaria, Libya delayed as emotions run high over HIV children fund
Five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor, who had been sentenced to death by firing squad, following a conviction of infecting 426 children with HIV in a hospital, have had that conviction quashed and a new trial has been ordered by Libya’s Supreme Court.
The six medics have been in jail since 1999 accused of deliberately infecting the youngsters in a hospital in the Mediterranean port of Benghazi.
As many as 50 of the infected children are reported to have already died.
Libya’s Supreme Court had suggested the death sentences could be quashed if the children and their families received ample humanitarian aid.
However according to a Libyan official talks have been delayed between Bulgaria and Libya on setting up the fund which aims to help Libyan children with HIV and assist the families concerned overcome the anger over the scrapping of the death sentences against six medics.
Libyan officials say the delay is due to “the bad mood of the families of the sick children following the verdict”, referring to the scrapping of the death sentences, but they expect talks to resume in a month.
For their part the nurses maintain their innocence and say their confessions were extracted under torture.
Foreign HIV experts have also said the epidemic had started well before the medics arrived in Benghazi.
Maxim Minchev, an official for the Bulgarian Civil Association for Encouraging Bilateral Relations with Libya, has reportedly said that they will meet in the middle of January when everyone will be more prepared.
The meeting in Tripoli of non-governmental organisations from both countries, was apparently agreed upon before the court’s ruling, with the intention that the organisation will iron out the details of the fund with the Libyan Association of the Families of HIV Infected Children.
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