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French Presidential Aide Hopeful for Condemned Foreign Medics in Libya


A French presidential aide says there is reason for hope in the case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with the AIDS virus.

Claude Gueant, who accompanied French First Lady Cecilia Sarkozy to Libya Thursday, said Friday in Paris that Mrs. Sarkozy's recent meetings with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and the families of the children went well.

Mrs. Sarkozy flew to Libya after the nation's Supreme Court Wednesday upheld death sentences for the medical workers. The sentences could be changed when Libya's High Judicial Council reviews them next week.

The medical workers say they were tortured into confessing to infecting the children. International experts say the infections were likely caused by poor sanitation.

The medics have been in prison in Libya since 1999.

European Union officials have expressed hope of clemency, possibly linked to a new compensation deal between Bulgaria and the children's families.

The Gadhafi Foundation, which has been acting as mediator between the parties, announced Tuesday that they had reached a settlement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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