Libya's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld death sentences on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor for deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, a judge said.
"The court rejects the appeals of the defendants and confirms the death penalty," judge Fathi Dhan told a five-minute hearing, according to Reuters. The six medics were not in court to hear the ruling.
The ruling came just one day after hopes were raised for a deal to win their release after eight years in detention, when Libya's Gaddafi Foundation charity stated it had reached an accord with the children's families that "puts an end to the crisis".
The six medics were sentenced to death late last year after being convicted of infecting 426 Libyan children with the virus while they worked at the children's hospital in the city of Benghazi in the 1990s. In jail since 1999, they claim they are innocent and were tortured to make them confess.
Now that the Supreme Court has confirmed the conviction, the case is expected to go to a government-controlled High Judicial Council which will have the power to commute the sentence or even pardon them.