- The six Bulgarian medics convicted for infecting at least 438 Libyan children with HIV/AIDS have been reunited with their families. They were freed following a deal struck between Libyan authorities and the European Union.
Upon arrival, they were pardoned by Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov.
President Parvanov said he was happy that the dramatic case has come to an end and that innocent Bulgarian citizens were freed. He however shared his country’s sympathy with the families of infected children.
The release had come on the heels of many negotiations involving authorities of the EU and Tripoli.
But the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is said to have sealed the negotiations by flying to Tripoli with his wife. Mr Sarkozy would be meeting the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, tomorrow. This meeting is designed to put the north African country back to the international community.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU External Affairs Commissioner, also strives hard to diffuse tension between Libya and Bulgaria over the issue.
The arrival of the medics at Sofia Airport had created an atmosphere of sombre, as relatives and friends were filled with tears.
One of the medis, Snezhana Dimitrova, expressed happiness but maintained innocence.
Another nurse, Christina Valcheva, explained how they were asked to wake up at 4 am, informing them about their release. She they had always hoped to be freed one day, although they had been living with fear.
The group returned with Zdravko Georgiev, a husband to one of the nurses who had been under house arrest in Libya.
EU officials described the development as an opener of a new page between Libya and the economic bloc in terms of co-operation in archaeology, education and health care for Libyan children living with HIV/AIDS.
Both the EU and the French President had refuted making financial contribution to secure the release of the medics, though Libyan authorities spoke on the contrary.
The medics were sentenced to death by a Tripoli court but this was later commuted to life imprisonment by the Judicial High Council. This followed a transfer application by the Bulgarian government.
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