January 14, 2004
The European Union has urged Libya to drop charges against six Bulgarians facing the death penalty for allegedly infecting more than 400 children with HIV, Bulgaria's ambassador to Libya, Zdravko Velev, told state radio Tuesday in Sofia. Dutch and British ambassadors handed Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanim a note Saturday asking that the criminal charges be abandoned as unsubstantiated and the defendants freed, said Velev. A court-appointed commission of Libyan doctors has rejected an outside assessment by the French co-discoverer of HIV, Dr. Luc Montagnier, who said poor hygiene at the Al Fateh hospital in Benghazi likely led to the children's HIV infections. The court-appointed commission said the Bulgarians willfully infected the children during blood transfusions. The next court date set for the Bulgarian defendants is Jan. 26.