A court in southern Kazakhstan convicted 21 medical workers Wednesday for their roles in infecting scores of children with the virus that causes AIDS, news reports said, in a case that has outraged the Central Asian nation.

The Shymkent district court gave suspended sentences to five senior district officials, including the Shymkent's district chief medical director, Kazakh and Russian news media reported. The court handed 16 other medical workers, including nurses and doctors in the city's hospital and clinics, to prison sentences of up to five years.

Russian state-run television showed footage from the courtroom, with people appearing to be relatives, yelling and fainting, outraged by the suspended sentences.

The Central Asian nation has been shocked by the infections, which resulted when scores of children and 13 mothers contracted HIV through injections or blood transfusions at hospitals in Shymkent, a city some 1,000 miles south of the capital, Astana.

Kazakh authorities have been testing thousands of mothers and children feared to be at risk of contracting HIV.

Nationwide inspections have revealed numerous cases of incompetence and corruption among doctors and nurses, with tainted blood being sold readily in some cases.

As of March, a total of 96 children have been confirmed as contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and officials said the total could be much more.