Sofia "Ready" with Nurses Defence

Politics | February 10, 2005, Thursday // 00:00

Bulgaria is ready with formulating its arguments in support of the five convicted nurses in Libya, a top state official has said.

The defence has to prove that the five women are innocent, Justice Minister Anton Stankov told Bulgarian National Radio.

Late on Wednesday evening, it was announced that Libya's Supreme Court would hear the HIV case against the Bulgarians on March 29. Jurors could confirm death sentences passed on the medics last May, or refer the case back to the Court of Appeals.

Minister Stankov has not named the other possible outcomes of the hearing.

Meanwhile, the defendants are undergoing detailed medical examinations that have to specify their health condition at the moment.

The Bulgarians have spent about six years in Libyan jail, during a trial for deliberate HIV infection of more than 400 Libyan children. In May 2004, court in Benghazi passed death sentences on the nurses, who were pleading not guilty.

The convicts insisted they had been tortured by Libyan officers to extract false confessions.

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