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Bulgaria demands speed in nurses' appeal in Libya AIDS case

Bulgaria demands speed in nurses' appeal in Libya AIDS case

Bulgaria is insisting that an appeal by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in an AIDS case in Libya should be heard speedily, the foreign minister said Friday.
"We will follow and exhaust all means of defense that Libya's judiciary offers," Ivailo Kalfin told reporters. "This, however, should happen as quickly as possible."
A Libyan court earlier this month convicted the six of intentionally infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence that the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers arrived in Libya.
The six _ who have been in Libyan custody for almost eight years _ now plan to appeal their convictions and sentences before Libya's Supreme Court.
The death sentences triggered outrage among Bulgarian civil groups and media. Some called for economic sanctions or the breaking of diplomatic relations with Tripoli. The European Union and the U.S. also expressed shock and disappointment at the verdict.
This angered Libya, which issued a sharp statement, denouncing Western criticism over the case.
"The positions expressed by the Bulgarian government, the European Union and others are political stances which are biased toward certain values which are not faraway from inciting wars, conflicts, hostilities between civilizations and religions," the Libyan Foreign Ministry said in a declaration late on Thursday.
Kalfin, however, defended Bulgaria's strong reaction to the death sentences and protested against what he called accusations of ethnic or religious intolerance.
"We had every reason to believe that the Libyan court would take into account the evidence (of the nurses' claims of innocence) but that did not happen," Kalfin said. "The reaction in Bulgaria was absolutely reasonable and (Libya) could hardly expect any other after such a verdict."
"Bulgaria has achieved a good level of ethnic and religious tolerance and the last accusation Libya can throw against Bulgaria is of inciting religious enmities," Kalfin added.
He said he had summoned the acting head of the Libyan Embassy in Sofia to defend Bulgarian reactions to the Libyan verdict and to repeat Bulgaria's insistence for a speedy trial.
Kalfin said Bulgaria would continue talks with Libya in the hope of finding a political solution to the case. These talks have been led by Libyan, Bulgarian, European and U.S. diplomats, but have not yet yielded a result.


Updated : 2021-05-13 12:30 GMT+08:00