03 November 2005 :Libya denied a report it would scrap capital punishment to pave the way for the release of five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for infecting children with HIV.
"There is no legislation or draft legislation to scrap the death penalty and there is no plan to do that any time soon," a senior government official said.
He was reacting to a report by the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat which quoted Arab diplomatic sources as saying Tripoli was likely to annul capital punishment soon as part of a deal to allow the nurses to be released.
Asharq al-Awsat added that the nurses, and a Palestinian doctor also convicted in the case, would be asked to pay compensation to a special fund and a charitable organisation run by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam.
Its sources said the deal was devised by the United States and the European Union, which had condemned the sentences.
Libyan officials said Gaddafi recently asked legal experts to mull how penal law could be revised as part of social and economic reforms.
But the senior government official told reporters: "The debate in Libya about the death penalty and other legal issues has nothing to do with the nurses and their sentences."
He declined to speculate on the possibility of the nurses being freed under any future political compromise.