Bulgaria hopes Libya frees jailed nurses

SOFIA, Bulgaria, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said Tuesday he hoped five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya would be freed this year.

"Together with the international community, our partners of the EU and the U.S., we hope for a fair resolution of the case of our compatriots and hope that 2005 will be the year of their homecoming," Passy was quoted by the BTA news agency as saying.


The five, along with a Palestinian doctor, were sentenced to death by firing squad last May for allegedly infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus.

The trials were condemned as grossly unfair by international rights groups and the nurses have filed charges against police officers, claiming their confessions were gained through torture.

European Union officials have said the fate of the nurses will partly determine the future of relations between Brussels and Libya.

Bulgaria is due to join the European Union in 2007.

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