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Agence France-Presse
Bulgaria urges Libya to investigate AIDS nurses case

<p>Staff Writer</p>

October 23, 2012

SOFIA, Oct 23, 2012 (AFP) - Bulgaria on Tuesday urged Libyan authorities to launch a new probe into AIDS epidemics blamed on six foreign medical workers who spent years in jail and say they were tortured by Moamer Kadhafi's deposed regime.

In a statement released on the first anniversary of Kadhafi's fall, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov called on Libya to find those responsible for the epidemics blamed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor.

"I urge the new Libyan institutions to conduct a just investigation of the AIDS epidemics in Benghazi, which would show the real perpetrators responsible for the tragedy of the Bulgarian medical nurses and the hundreds of infected Libyan children," Mladenov said in a statement.

The medical workers, who became known as the "Benghazi Six", were jailed in 1999 and sentenced to death for allegedly conspiring to give AIDS-tainted blood to over 400 children in the hospital in the northeastern city of Benghazi where they worked.

The Libyan court ignored testimony by international health experts that the epidemic resulted from poor hygiene, while the medics claimed they were beaten, subjected to electroshocks and bitten by dogs to force them to confess.

The six spent over eight years in a Libyan jail before international pressure led to a commuting of their life sentences in 2007, when they were flown back to Bulgaria on board a French presidential plane and set free.

Ever since last year's uprisings in Libya and the subsequent toppling and death of Kadhafi, the medics have pressed for the country's new leadership to exonerate them.

Bulgaria's own investigation into their torture claims has been stuck over a failure of the Libyan authorities to respond to the prosecution's requests for judicial assistance.