Borisov: Bulgaria paid racket money to free nurses
The government paid more than 100 million leva to Libya for the medics, according to the prime minister-elect.
Sofia -- Bulgaria's incoming Prime Minister Boyko Borisov last week accused the outgoing Socialist government of paying to secure the release of six Bulgarian medics in Libya two years ago.
"They keep mum that we paid racket money," Borisov was quoted as saying by the Focus news agency, on the second anniversary of the medics' return to Bulgaria.
The government paid more than 100 million leva (51 million euros, 72 million dollars) to Libya for the medics, he alleged.
The five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian-born doctor were released on July 24, 2007 after spending eight years in jail in Libya for infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV-tainted blood at a hospital in Benghazi.
After their release, Bulgaria agreed to waive Libya's communist-era debt to Bulgaria of 56.6 million dollars (41.5 million euros at the time). Libya agreed to transfer an equal sum into a fund for the families of the infected children.
The European Commission, Germany and other countries also pledged contributions to the fund but the actual sum gathered for it was never made public.
At least 56 of the children have died of AIDS, but the medics always maintained their innocence, backed by health experts who testified that poor hygiene was the actual cause of the disease.
The medics were twice sentenced to death but international pressure helped to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Allowed to serve their sentence at home, they were pardoned on arrival in Bulgaria by President Georgy Parvanov.