A Libyan court sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death on Tuesday for deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
The verdict can be appealed.
Judge Mahmoud Hawissa read out the verdict at a seven-minute hearing in a Tripoli court at the end of the defendants' second trial, the AP reported.
The six defendants, detained for nearly seven years, had previously been convicted and condemned to death, but Libyan judges granted them a retrial after international protests over the fairness of the proceedings. Bulgaria contends the children were infected by unsanitary practices at their Libyan hospital.
On his part, Georgi Pirinski, Bulgaria's speaker of parliament slammed the ruling. "We categorically condemn the death sentences. "Convicting innocent people to death covers the real perpetrators of the AIDS epidemic and deepens the tragedy."
"We appeal to the international community to categorically condemn the court's decision and join the appeal for the Libyan side to immediately release the condemned."
However, 50 relatives of the infected children waited outside the court early Tuesday morning, holding poster-sized pictures of their children and bearing placards that read "Death for the children killers'' and "HIV made in Bulgaria.''