Sun, Jan 28, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Bulgarian nurses will not be executed: Qaddafi's son

AFP , SOFIA

The son of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi has promised that Libya will not carry out death sentences handed down to five Bulgarian nurses in a high-profile Libyan AIDS trial, the 24 Hours newspaper reported yesterday.

"I guarantee we will not execute them," Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam told the newspaper.

"Believe me, now we are closer to a solution," he said in an interview that the newspaper will publish in full tomorrow.

Al-Islam heads the Qaddafi Goodwill Foundation that has been involved in negotiations concerning the case of the medics.

The five Bulgarians and a Palestinian doctor were condemned to death last month by firing squad on charges of having "knowingly" infected over 400 Libyan children with AIDS-tainted blood in the al-Fateh hospital in the northeastern town of Benghazi where they worked.

Fifty-three of the children have already died of AIDS.

But the defendants, who have already spent eight years in a Libyan prison, maintain their innocence on the basis of testimony by international health experts who have said the outbreak occurred long before the arrival of the nurses and doctor and was most likely caused by poor hygienic conditions at the hospital.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry was not immediately available to comment on al-Islam's statement.

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