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Monday, December 26, 2005 

Health workers gain reprieve in Libyan court

Health workers gain reprieve in Libyan court

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor at the center of intense international negotiations won a reprieve on Sunday, when Libya's highest court overturned their death sentences on charges they deliberately infected children with AIDS.

The United States and European Union have made it clear that their future relations with Moammar Gadhafi depend upon the outcome of the case, but the Libyan leader faces high emotions at home, where relatives of the infected children angrily protested Sunday's decision in Tripoli. Some set fire to tires and clashed with police. Four demonstrators were arrested.

The Libyan government issued no immediate statement on the court ruling. In Washington, State Department spokesman Justin Higgins said "our understanding is that this decision is a positive development since it removes the risk of the death sentence being carried out." The nurses and doctor are widely expected to receive lighter sentences in a retrial ordered by the supreme court.