TRIPOLI, Libya – Libya's highest court said Wednesday it would rule on July 11 in the appeal of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor trying to overturn their conviction and death sentences on charges of infecting about 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus.
Presiding judge Fathi Dahan announced the verdict date at a session in Tripoli, saying the court has finished all proceedings in the appeal.
Libya is under intense international pressure to free the six medical personnel, who deny infecting the children. Imprisoned in Libya since 1999, they were convicted and sentenced to death a second time in December in a retrial.
U.S. President George W. Bush called on Libya last week to free the medics. "We're deeply concerned about the plight of the nurses," he said during a visit to Bulgaria. "They should be released and they should be allowed to return to their families."
The case has become a sticking point in Libya's attempts to rebuild ties with Europe and the United States. During the trials, the defense brought in experts to testify that the children were infected by unhygienic conditions at a Benghazi hospital. In their testimonies, the workers said the confessions used by the prosecution had been extracted under torture
But the prosecution has insisted that the six infected the children intentionally, part of experiments aimed at finding a cure for the disease.