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Libya Hands Out Money To Families In HIV Case

The Bulgarian medics have been in prison since 1999 (epa) July 17, 2007 -- The families of hundreds of HIV-positive children in Libya have received financial compensation worth $460 million.

The move paves the way for a state panel to free six foreign health workers, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, condemned to death for allegedly infecting the children.

A lawyer for the families, Idriss Lagha, said all the families received the compensation money. Lagha numbered the families receiving the compensation at 460, each family receiving $1 million.

The families have signed a declaration renouncing the death sentences. Libya's top judicial body, the High Judicial Council, is expected to rule on the medics' fate after receiving the declaration.

The medical workers, in prison since 1999, were sentenced to death in December 2006 after being convicted of intentionally starting an HIV epidemic at a children's hospital in the city of Benghazi. Fifty-six of the children have died in the epidemic.

The medics say they are innocent and that they were tortured to confess.

Lagha said the money came from the Benghazi International Fund, which is financed by the European Union, United States, Bulgaria, and Libya.

(compiled from agency reports)