Relatives of Libyan children with the virus that causes AIDS have begun receiving financial compensation in a deal that could pave the way for the release of six foreign medics sentenced to death for infecting them.

A spokesman for the families, Idriss Lagha, says that after all the families have been paid, Libya's top judicial body, the High Judicial Council, is expected to rule on whether to uphold or commute the medical workers' death sentences.

Libyan officials say the judicial body may agree to release the medics once the families of the children receive the compensation.

The five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were imprisoned eight years ago for allegedly infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV- tainted blood.

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

Last week, Libya's Supreme Court upheld the death sentences for the six medical workers.

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