Bulgaria has criticized Libya's Supreme Court for postponing a ruling on the appeal of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death on charges of deliberately infecting children with AIDS.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov says the court's decision to delay the ruling until January 31st prolongs the tragedy of the detainees.

Relatives of some of the infected children fought with riot police when the postponement was announced.

The court gave no reason for putting off its decision.  The defendants deny the charges, and human rights groups say Libyan police used torture to force them to confess.

Here in Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli repeated U.S. calls for the defendants' release and said establishment of normalized relations with Libya depends on Libyan progress on human rights.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP.