Lybia trial adjourned
A court in Libya has adjourned for the 12th time the trial in which six Bulgarians and a Palestinian are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus. "The hearing was suspended until 2 June to satisfy lawyers' demands for more questioning of the defendants and to allow doctors to examine some of the accused," said Judge Ibrahim Lajnaf.
The defendants, among which five Bulgarian nurses and one doctor, were arrested more than two years ago; it is alleged they injected nearly 400 children at a hospital in the city of Benghazi with contaminated blood products. All of them deny the charges but could face the death penalty if convicted.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi recently said that injecting the children had been part of a foreign conspiracy against his country. "This case is a horrible crime. It is a catastrophe," he said, adding that some of the defendants had confessed to being employed by the American CIA and Israel's Mossad secret service. The case has caused widespread concern in Bulgaria, where the government has pressed for independent medical evidence to be considered.
On target for planned growth
Finance Minister Mouravey Radev announced last week that Bulgaria's economic growth for the year 2000 was 5.5 percent, inflation was 11.4 percent and the national debt amounted to BGL (Bulragian Lev) 20.617 billion (USD 9.3 million). He pointed out that in 2000 Bulgaria had achieved its greatest success since the beginning of the transition process. The forecast is that Bulgaria will achieve the planned 5.5-per cent GDP growth by the end of the year.
A key player in the quest for peace
The crisis in Macedonia and the opportunities for Bulgaria to continue playing its role as an active stability factor in the region were discussed on 15 May by Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhaylova and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. Mikhaylova was in Brussels for a first-of-its-kind meeting of foreign and defence ministers of EU members, of applicant states and of non-EU NATO members.
It was noted that a stable, secure and predictable Bulgaria is, possibly, one of the most important guarantors for developing a fast and efficient solution to the problems that are now threatening not only Macedonia but the western Balkans as a whole, Mikhaylova said after meeting with Solana.
Major changes in the air
Albanian Airlines is the most likely buyer of a 51 percent stake in state-owned airline Hemus Air, after submitting improved offers, Standart News learned yesterday.
Bulgaria's Privatisation Agency announced on Monday last week that three firms would continue bidding for the stake. "If the offers of all three firms meet the requirements, we will invite them to bid for the price for Hemus Air on Thursday afternoon," the agency's executive director, Levon Hampartzoumian, told a news conference.
Hampartzoumian said the Albanian Airlines, local private tourist operator Pirin Tourist and another local firm, Lizingovo Druzhestvo, were the three bidders. Hemus Air is the only Bulgarian carrier flying to Albania's capital Tirana. Apart from the price, a plan for the development of Hemus Air within the next two years will be decisive for winning the majority stake in the company, he added.
More than USD 51 million was invested in the construction of the new air traffic control center of Sofia Airport. The center was opened on 16 May and will control air traffic over the whole of Bulgaria. "I am really proud that this, the most complex facility to be built in Bulgaria in recent years, was built by Bulgarians," Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said at an official ceremony.
"It is part of the project to make Bulgaria a European country," he added, expressing a hope that the center will grow into a Balkan flight control center. The facility has been built up to the latest standards and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol.
Complaints not upheld
On 11 May, the Supreme Administrative Court in Sofia rejected two complaints against the legality of the earlier registration of the National Movement Simeon II by the Central Electoral Commission as a party running in the June elections, AP reported.
The complaints had been launched by the small Bulgarian Communist Party, a group of die-hard Stalinists, and by the fringe Rodolyubie 2000. After having been previously banned from running on its own, the National Movement Simeon II formed an electoral alliance with the Bulgarian Women's Party and the National Revival Party, and the Central Electoral Commission eventually approved the coalition's running under the name of the former king's movement.
The National Movement Simeon II is to start its election campaign on 20 May, chief of the election headquarters Emil Koshloukov announced yesterday. The first rally will take place in Sofia and the campaign will then spread to all big towns of the country.
And in other news...
- The Privatization Agency imposed compensation payments of USD 5.64 million on Zeevi Holdings, owner of 75 percent of the shares in the Bulgarian national air carrier Balkan. The fine is imposed for violation of the investment commitments in the privatization contract.
- Customs officials in Bulgaria say they have seized more than 150 kilograms of heroin from a Turkish-registered truck bound for Germany. They say the drugs were contained in 300 separate packages hidden behind a double wall in the lorry's trailer; the driver was detained. The discovery was made at the Turkish borderBulgaria lies on the so-called Balkan route for smuggling drugs from Asia into Western Europe.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 18 May 2001
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