Gadhafi's Son Warns Europe on AIDS Case

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 20, 2007; 10:41 PM

TRIPOLI, Libya -- The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi warned European Parliament members Saturday against politicizing the case of five Bulgarian nurses convicted of infecting Libyan children with HIV and sentenced to death.

The message from Seif al-Islam Gadhafi came in response to European Commission threats that Libyan-European relations would be harmed if the Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor convicted of the same charges are executed.

"Pressures by Europeans on Libya will have a negative impact on the situation of the nurses and the Palestinian doctor and will take the case out of its legal and judiciary context to the political arena," Gadhafi said in the statement issued by the Gadhafi International Association for Charitable Organizations, which he heads.

He also cautioned that European pressures would "hinder efforts exerted in several directions to reach a just solution and complete settlement for this issue." He did not elaborate.

A court in Tripoli last month convicted the nurses and a Palestinian doctor of intentionally infecting 400 Libyan children at a hospital and sentenced the six to death. Fifty children have died, and the rest have been treated in Europe.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in January, has blamed the infections on unhygienic practices at the hospital and accused Libya of making the medical workers scapegoats. Samples from the children showed their viruses were contracted before the six defendants started working at the hospital.

The nurses and doctor _ who have been in Libyan custody since 1999 _ plan to appeal their convictions and sentences to Libya's Supreme Court.

Libya's prosecution of the nurses has become a point of contention in the country's efforts to rebuild ties with the West. Europe and the United States have called for the medical workers' release, indicating that future relations with Libya would likely be affected by the verdict.

© 2007 The Associated Press