Libya reportedly to abolish capital punishment

[JURIST] Libya will abolish capital punishment in a step towards commuting the death sentences of five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor [BBC report] according to Asharq Al-Awsat, a London-based paper citing Arab diplomats close to the Libyan government. The nurses and doctor were sentenced by a Libyan court to death by firing squad last year for having caused the death of 40 children and infecting approximately 400 more with HIV at a hospital in Benghazi. Prosecutors claimed the medical professionals infected the children while experimenting to find a cure for AIDS, but the defendants claimed the epidemic was really the result of poor hygiene [BBC News report] in the medical facility. The European Union and US have supported Bulgaria in insisting on the innocence of the nurses, with President Bush recently meeting with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov [official profile] and urging Libya to release the prisoners. The nurses and doctor have appealed their conviction and the Libyan high court is scheduled to decide whether they will hear it on November 15. AFP has more.

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