A ruling commuting the death sentences imposed on Bulgarian medics in Libya to life in prison has been welcomed by the West as a step toward their eventual freedom.
They had been convicted of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV. But that decision was overturned by Libya’s highest judicial body yesterday. It is seen as linked to a compensation package offered to the victims’ families.
But the medics’ relatives say they should be freed because they are innocent. One family member described the life sentence as a “stain”.
Others welcomed it as a means to get the five nurses and one Palestinian-born doctor back home.
Under a 1984 prisoner exchange agreement with Libya, the group can be transfered to Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian government has praised the decision taken by Libya’s High Judicial Court as a positive step. It said negotiations on a transfer to Bulgaria would now begin.
Each of the families of the 460 infected children has been offered compensation worth more than 700,000 euros.
Analysts say the repatriation of the group would boost Libya’s efforts to end decades of diplomatic isolation.