Cecilia Sarkozy visits medics on death row in Libya

13th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

TRIPOLI, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Cecilia on Thursday paid a visit to Bulgarian medics facing the death sentence in Libya after being convicted of infecting children with the AIDS virus, a Libyan official said.

TRIPOLI, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Cecilia on Thursday paid a visit to Bulgarian medics facing the death sentence in Libya after being convicted of infecting children with the AIDS virus, a Libyan official said.

Sarkozy also visited families of children infected by the virus in the Mediterranean city of Benghazi, about 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) east of Tripoli, spokesman for the families Idriss Lagha told AFP.

The visit was confirmed by President Sarkozy, who said his wife would also hold talks with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

"Cecilia is still in Libya. She has just seen the nurses (and) she left Tripoli to go to see the children who contracted AIDS," Sarkozy told journalists in Epinal, a town in eastern France.

"She will have a new meeting with Colonel Kadhafi this evening," he added.

The French press recently said Cecilia Sarkozy was expected to play a "complementary" role to her husband on the international scene.

In Benghazi, Mrs Sarkozy stressed that her visit to Libya was "not official" and that she had been sent by the French president "as a mother" to affirm the support of France for the children, according to Lagha.

"The meeting was very warm," he said, adding that Sarkozy had embraced many of the sick children.

She had also promised medical support and said the French authorities would facilitate visas to families who wanted their children treated in France, Lagha said.

Sarkozy's visit comes a day after Libya's Supreme Court confirmed the death penalty against five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were convicted of infecting 438 children with HIV-tainted blood at a hospital and sentenced to death in May 2004.

Fifty-six of the children have since died.

Foreign health experts have cited poor hygiene as the probable cause of the epidemic in Benghazi, Libya's second city.

A reprieve may still be possible in the case that has dragged on for eight years.

Libya's top legal body is due to meet next week to examine a compensation deal negotiated by the Kadhafi Foundation, a charitable body headed by the son of the Libyan leader, that could see the death sentences commuted.

Lagha repeated Thursday that the families were open to a settlement that would see the medics freed, in accordance, he said, with the Islamic principles of forgiveness and clemency.

"The acceptance by the families of reconciliation obeys the principles of Islam -- forgiveness and clemency -- and it is due to these principles that the nurses could be released," Lagha said.

"The world must show humanity towards our children, as we are doing towards the nurses. It must express a humane interest for our children, in ensuring their treatment for the rest of their lives," he added.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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