Families of Bulgarian HIV nurses plead EU to help

Families of foreign medics sentenced to death for infecting Libyan children with the virus that causes Aids urged European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday to help clinch a deal to end their “nightmare”.

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were convicted in December of deliberately infecting 426 children in a highly politicised trial that has slowed efforts by Opec member Libya to end its long international isolation.

The medics, jailed since 1999, appealed to Libya’s Supreme Court saying they are innocent and were tortured into confessing. The court is expected to rule on their appeal on July 11.

“If we are here today, it is to save the lives of our mothers, to see if the EU can help,” said Gergana Ouzounova (25) daughter of 52-year-old nurse Valia Cherveniashka, in an interview of the families of the medics with Reuters.

The EU and the United States have stepped up pressure for their release. The EU and an association of families of the infected children are discussing a financial settlement that could set the stage for the medics’ release.

“We hope that very soon all this nightmare will end, because we cannot bear any more sufferings,” said Ahmed Jumaa (65) father of the doctor Ashraf Alhajouj, who has lived most of his life in Libya and says the police fabricated the charges.

Jumaa, his daughter, and relatives of four of the five nurses came to Brussels hoping to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, chairing a summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

They had not yet received an answer as to whether the meeting would take place.
- Reuters

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