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Medics may face death in HIV-trial

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SOFIA, Bulgaria -- A Libyan prosecutor demanded death sentences Monday for six Bulgarian medics charged with deliberately infecting about 400 Libyan children with HIV through blood transfusions, Bulgarian state radio reported.

The Bulgarians -- five nurses and a doctor -- are charged with infecting the children with the virus that causes AIDS through tainted blood. Twenty-three of the children have reportedly developed AIDS and died.

The demand came only days after a French scientist testified that poor hygiene at the hospital likely led to the contamination. But he said the contamination dated to 1997 -- two years before the Bulgarians were hired to work in Libya.

The scientist, Dr Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, studied the Libyan case, meeting a Bulgarian request for an independent international assessment.

Libyan police arrested the Bulgarians in February 1999. They were in prison until September 2002, when a high tribunal in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, acquitted them of conspiracy charges and handed the case over to an ordinary criminal court. Since then, the six have been under house arrest.

They have complained of severe torture during police interrogation.

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