Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Arab diplomatic sources with close ties to the Libyan Government have revealed that the crisis of the Bulgarian nurses, who had been sentenced to death before a firing squad in Libya after being convicted of spreading the AIDS virus to hundreds of Libyan children, is about to be solved. This is being done through a Libyan-Bulgarian deal sponsored by the EU and the United States.
The sources added that the Libyan authorities are on the verge of declaring the abolition of the death penalty, pending the amendment of a sentence passed last year on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. The sources said that the Basic People”s Congresses (local and municipal councils) are about to adopt a resolution abolishing the death penalty. They will then refer it to the General People”s Congress (Libyan parliament), the highest legislative authority in the Libyan regime to enact it into law. The previous law had been in force since 1977.
The sources said that the abolition of the death penalty will open the way to pass a lighter sentence on the Bulgarian medical team. This might take the form of monetary compensation that will be paid through a fund that Libya and Bulgaria will finance in addition to the some volunteer organizations like the Al-Qaddafi International Institution for Charity Associations, which is managed by Saif-al-Islam al-Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Colonel Al-Qaddafi had previously called for amending the Libyan Penal Code and adopting a new one that does not include the death penalty. Al-Qaddafi said that the world has confused attitudes to this penalty. The Libyan Higher Judicial Council (HJC) held a series of meetings to debate this issue.
In the past two days the HJC held several seminars and academic conferences over a bill designed to amend the Libyan Penal Code and search for alternatives to the current imprisonment penalties, the problems that the death penalty causes, whether it is enforced in accordance with temporal or Koranic law. The seminars also debated Islamic punishments mentioned in the Koran.
It has been disclosed that preparations are being made to hold a session of secret negotiations between foreign ministry undersecretaries from Libya, Bulgaria, the United States, and Britain to draw up the deal”s main points. This will eliminate the last obstacle barring the resumption of relations between Libya and Europe on one hand and Libya and the United States on the other.
The sources added that this meeting will be held in Brussels, home to the EU headquarters, after the Muslim Eid al-Fitr. They said that the negotiations will continue regardless of the verdict that a Libyan appeals court is expected to pass in mid-November on the appeal submitted by the Bulgarian medical team against the death penalty that was previously passed on its members.