TRIPOLI, Libya — Six foreign health workers jailed in Libya for years on charges of deliberately infecting children with the AIDS virus were convicted and sentenced to death in a case that has long sparked international outrage and did so again Tuesday.

The United States and Europe had called for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor, warning Libya that the ruling would affect relations. Already the long trial has held up efforts by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to repair his rogue image and rebuild ties with the West.

The nurses and doctor have been in jail since 1999 on charges that they spread the HIV virus to more than 400 children at a hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi during a botched experiment to find a cure for the disease. Western nations blame the infections on unsanitary conditions at Libyan hospitals and accuse Tripoli of using the six health workers as scapegoats.,2933,237341,00.html