TRIPOLI, Libya, AP -Libya called on the Bulgarian government to negotiate the payment of blood money to win amnesty for five Bulgarian medics and a Palestinian sentenced to death for allegedly infecting 400 children with the virus that causes AIDS.
Libya has come under intense pressure from Europe and the United States to free the medics, amid accusations by human rights groups that the government concocted the charges against them to cover up unsafe practices in its hospitals and clinics.
The six medical workers, rounded up in 1999, were sentenced to death in May 2004 on charges they infected the children with HIV-contaminated blood in an experiment to find a cure for AIDS. Libya said about 50 of the infected children have died. But in May, a court postponed a ruling in the defendants” appeal of their convictions until November, raising hopes that Libya might free them.
Libya”s ambassador to Britain, Mohammed al-Zaway, said Wednesday the Bulgarian government should negotiate with the families of the victims to decide on a "diya," or blood money, which Islamic law allows to be paid to victims in murder cases to prevent a death sentence.
Bulgaria has rejected previous Libyan calls for it to pay compensation to the victims” families.
"An agreement with the families of the children would reflect positively on the case according to Islamic law," al-Zaway said after talks with U.S and British officials in Tripoli.
"The amount that the Bulgarian government agrees on with the family is not an issue for us. The important thing is the families” agreement," he told The Associated Press.
He added that Libya "will not accept arrogant language from the West."
The six defendants have complained of torture during interrogations, saying they were jolted with electricity, beaten with sticks and repeatedly jumped on while strapped to their beds. Two of the Bulgarian nurses said they were raped. All the nurses are women. In June, a Libyan court acquitted nine police officers and a doctor accused in the torture.