|Seif al-Islam has been active in trying to resolve the medics' case.|
Libyans reach deal in case of accused foreign medics
TRIPOLI, Libya -- A settlement has been reached to resolve the crisis over five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly infecting more than 400 children with the AIDS virus, a foundation headed by the Libyan leader's son said yesterday .
Foundation spokesman Salah Abdessalem did not say how the deal reached with families of the AIDS-infected children would affect the case against the six foreign medical workers. The announcement came a day before Libya's Supreme Court was to rule on an appeal of their sentence, which caused an international outcry and a diplomatic crisis with Bulgaria and the European Union.
"A settlement has been reached by the Khadafy foundation and the League of the Libyan Children Infected with AIDS," Abdessalem said, referring to the group representing families of infected children. "This settlement is acceptable to all parties and will end the crisis," he told The Associated Press. "Details will be announced tomorrow."
The spokesman did not say whether the settlement involved financial compensation for the families, but there have been rumors for days in Libya that such an agreement was imminent.
Khadafy had tried in the past to reach a deal in which Bulgaria would compensate the victims. But the Bulgarian government had rejected the proposal, saying it would imply the nurses' guilt.
Libyan officials have said the families' acceptance of a compensation settlement was key to resolving the legal deadlock. It would satisfy Islamic law and allow the death sentence to be withdrawn, they say.
Libya's ambassador to Britain, Mohammed al-Zaway, has said in the past that an agreement with the families would reflect positively on the case according to Islamic law. Often referred to as blood money, compensation for death or suffering is a legal provision in the traditional Islamic code that is widespread in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
The Khadafy International Foundation for Charity Associations, which announced the settlement, is headed by Seif al Islam, son of longtime Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy. Seif al Islam has become an influential figure in Khadafy's regime and an unofficial ambassador-at-large for it. He has been active for months in trying to resolve the case of the medics. Earlier this year, he told a Bulgarian newspaper the six had received unjust verdicts and would not be executed.
Libya is under intense international pressure to free the six, who deny infecting the children. The case has become a sticking point in Libya's attempts to rebuild ties with the United States and Europe. President Bush called on Libya last month to free the medics.
A senior aide to Bush hand-delivered a letter from the president to Khadafy on Monday that noted, among other things, the importance of resolving the crisis , Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said yesterday.