Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were today sentenced to death by a court in Libya for deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus.
The ruling immediately brought a chorus of international condemnation and could prove to be a setback for Libya’s efforts to improve ties with the West.
Bulgaria’s foreign ministry called the decision “deeply disappointing” and urged Libya’s leadership to intervene in the case and free the nurses.
Bulgaria has maintained that the children were infected by unhygienic conditions at the Benghazi hospital, in the north of Libya, where they were being treated.
“Sentencing innocent people to death is an attempt to cover up the real culprits and the real reasons for the AIDS outbreak in Benghazi,” said Georgi Pirinski, a Bulgarian parliamentary speaker.
However, shouts of joy met the decision in the Tripoli courtroom.
“God is great!” yelled Ibrahim Mohammed al-Aurabi, the father of an infected child, as soon as the verdict was announced. “Long live the Libyan judiciary!”