Libya on Saturday denounced a decision by Bulgaria's president to pardon six medics from life jail terms in an AIDS case as a "betrayal" and an "illegal procedure." "The detainees should have been detained upon their arrival (in Sofia), and not freed in this celebratory and illegal manner," Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham told a news conference in Tripoli.
Sofia's actions "violated the legal procedures regarding extradition, as set down under international law and in the agreement on judicial cooperation signed between the two countries" in 1984, Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi said. "We followed the procedure -- it is Bulgaria that betrayed us," Mahmudi said, according to AFP.
The premier added that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who made a high-profile late intervention in the case and sent his wife Cecilia to negotiate with the Libyan authorities, had voiced his "discontent" with the manner in which the medics were released.
Shalgham meanwhile slammed European countries for "joining forces behind the criminals (...) before applauding their liberation."
He dismissed the "strong European pressure" exerted on Libya, and railed against "the humanitarian and international organizations who, instead of criticising the liberation of the criminals, welcomed and greeted this step." Libya will now raise the matter with the African Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and the Arab League, the ministers said.