Bulgarians pray for condemned HIV nurses

SOFIA – Thousands of Bulgarians took part in an open mass in Sofia on Saturday in support of five Bulgarian nurses who have been sentenced to death in Libya for deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV.

Sofia, backed by its allies in Brussels and Washington, has stepped up pressure on Libya to release the nurses condemned in a highly politicized case that has blocked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attempts to put an end to diplomatic isolation.

A Libyan court sentenced to death five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor in December for intentionally infecting 426 Libyan children with the HIV virus in the 1990s, more than 50 of whom have died.

More than 2,000 people gathered in front of Sofia’s gold-domed Orthodox Christian Alexander Nevski cathedral to pray to three icons brought to Sofia from Bulgaria’s largest monasteries that are believed to have magical power.

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