Libya Spares Lives of Nurses, Doc in HIV Case

Executions called off after payments to infected kids' families
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2007 6:26 PM CDT
Zorka Anachkova, left, the mother of Kristiana Valcheva one of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya, sits on a chair and a man with a t-shirt with a slogan which reads"Justice for our...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Libyan government today spared the lives of the foreign medical workers sentenced to die for infecting hundreds of children with HIV. Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor had their sentences commuted to life in prison after the families of the infected children each accepted $1 million and withdrew their demand for execution, the AP reports.

The workers say they confessed under torture, and one of their lawyers expressed disappointment that they weren't pardoned. The ruling "automatically closes the legal case against them," the foreign minister said, and opens the door for the workers to leave the country. They have been in custody since 1999 and were sentenced to death last year.