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French First Lady Returns to Libya to Help Bulgarian Medics


French first lady Cecilia Sarkozy was in Tripoli Sunday with a senior European Union official to help win speedy release from prison of six Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor.

The six medics are serving a life term on charges of deliberately injecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV - the virus that causes AIDS. They deny the charge.

This was Mrs. Sarkozy's second visit to Libya this month. She was joined Sunday by EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

No details of their visit have been announced. But a European Commission statement says it hopes what it calls a long and painful situation can be resolved in a humanitarian spirit.

The six medics were originally sentenced to death. But Libya's highest court commuted the sentence to life in prison last week when the families of the sick children received financial compensation.

Bulgaria and Libya have a prisoner exchange treaty. Libyan officials have said they have no objection to the medics being allowed to take advantage of the treaty. Medical experts say the children likely caught the HIV virus from unsanitary conditions in a hospital in the city of Benghazi. French President Nicloas Sarkozy will reportedly visit Libya Wednesday.

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