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Libya Calls on Arab Nations to Condemn Bulgaria For Pardoning 6 Medical Workers


Libya has called on other Arab countries to join Tripoli in condemning Bulgaria for pardoning six medical workers convicted in Libya of infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam told reporters in Tripoli Saturday that his government sent an official memorandum asking Arab League nations to review their relations with Sofia.

A Libyan court sentenced the six Bulgarians to life in prison, but Tripoli permitted them to return to Bulgaria to serve the rest of their sentence there. President Georgy Parvanov pardoned them upon their arrival in Sofia Tuesday.

Libyan officials today revealed new details surrounding the transfer deal. He said most of the funds to support the infected children came from the Czech Republic, Qatar and Bulgaria. The families of each infected child received $1 million in compensation per child.

Libyan courts convicted the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor, who is now a Bulgarian citizen, of deliberately infecting more than 400 children with the virus that causes AIDS. The six insist they are innocent. International experts say the children likely got sick from unsanitary conditions at a Libyan hospital.

The Bulgarians were originally sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison after families of the affected children received monetary compensation from an international fund.

As part of the transfer deal, the European Union has pledged to normalize ties with Libya. In addition, France and Libya have signed a memorandum of understanding that Paris will provide a nuclear reactor to Libya to turn sea water into drinking water.

Bulgarian Prime Minister earlier said his country is considering writing off Libya's $54 million debt to Bulgaria as a humanitarian gesture.

German lawmakers on Saturday criticized France for the deal with Libya. Human rights activists also have questioned the benefits given to Libya coinciding with the release.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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