The six medics, sentenced to death in Libya but then reprieved, arrived in Sofia this morning and were immediately given a presidential pardon. Last week the five Bulgarian nurses and one doctor of Palestinian origin were facing death by firing squad, for deliberately infecting more than 400 children with the HIV aids virus. The Libyan Supreme Court refused to quash the execution order, even though the six had always maintained their innocence. After eight years in a Libyan prison it appeared their last chance of reprieve was gone. But following the supreme court ruling the diplomatic efforts intensified, spearheaded by the French President and his wife, Cécilia Sarkozy, and EU Exterior Affairs Commissioner, Benita Ferrero- Waldner. Around three quarters of a million euros was promised, from an international humanitarian fund, to the families of each of the 450 or so victims. In return they were asked to agree to a reprieve.
That paved the way for the death sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment, and an eventual return home. It wasn’t known if they would be transferred to jail in Bulgaria on arrival. It was left to the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Ivailo Kalfin, to announce the good news. The President was granting them a full pardon and they were free to go home to their families. Benita Ferrero-Waldner said it was a very happy day and saluted the efforts of Cecilia Sarkozy in freeing the medics.