The death sentence of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV has been commuted to life in prison, a top Libyan official said Tuesday.
According to the AP, the ruling came after the families of the children each received $1 million and agreed to drop their demand for the execution of the six, who deny having infected more than 400 children and claim their confessions were extracted under torture. Fifty of the infected children died.
Libya's Supreme Court had upheld the six medics' death sentence last week, but the Judiciary Council meeting late Tuesday is a government body that can overrule the court.
One of the medics' lawyers, Harry Haralampiev, said he was not satisfied with the decision. "I expected the council to pardon the medics," he said.
Idriss Lagha, the head of the Libyan-based Association for the Families of HIV-Infected Children, said the families had dropped their demand because each received the compensation money they were due under a settlement reached last week.
"All the families have received their cash transfer, $1 million for each infection," Lagha told AP late Tuesday. According to him, the families' association had notified the Gadhafi foundation, which has been acting as a mediator in the case, that all the compensation funds had been handed over.