AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARIANS BACK LIBYAN DEATH SENTENCE ON BULGARIANS
May 18, 2007: African parliamentarians backed death sentences imposed in Libya on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor convicted of injecting more than 400 children with HIV-tainted blood.
The Pan African Parliament (PAP), sitting at Midrand near Johannesburg, approived a motion calling for the sentence to be respected and condemning "any political interference from any quarter", Libyan MP Mohamed Gebril al-Orafy, the sponsor of the motion, said.
It also urged "respect of the Libyan Court's decision".
The six medics are on death row after being found guilty of infecting children who received transfusions of blood contaminated with the virus that causes AIDS at a hospital in Benghazi between 1997 and 1999. More than 50 died.
The nurses -- Kristiana Valcheva, Nassia Nenova, Valia Cherveniachka, Valentina Siropoulo and Snejana Dimitrova -- and doctor Ashraf Ahmad Juma were condemned to death in May 2004, a verdict upheld last December.
The group has been in custody for eight years as a final appeal before the Libyan Supreme Court is pending.
The accused maintain their innocence, backed by testimony from foreign health experts who blamed poor hygine for the AIDS epidemic in Libya's second city, and said their "confessions" were forced from them under torture.
The European Union has condemned the verdict.
The PAP resolution also expresssed solidarity with the Libyan people and the families of the victims, saying the medics had had the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law. (Sources: Afp, 18/05/2007)