Two sentenced over Bulgaria bus bombing blamed on Hezbollah

Elias Hubbard
September 24, 2020

At the conclusion of a trial in absentia, a five-member panel of Bulgaria's Special Criminal Court has found Meliad Farah and Hassan El Hajj Hassan guilty in connection with the July 2012 terrorist attack on Israeli tourists at Bourgas Airport and sentenced the two to life in prison with no possibility of parole. The bomb eliminated 5 individuals, consisting of a pregnant female, the Bulgarian bus motorist and the French-Lebanese bomber.

The two were identified as Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah, 31 at the time of the attack, and Lebanese-Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 24, and were charged in mid-2016 as the bomber's accomplices.

The attack, which took place in Bulgaria's Burgas Airport on 18 July 2012, was the deadliest against Israelis since 2004.

It also ruled that the two - who had fled Bulgaria and have not been tracked down so far - must pay damages to the families of those who died or were injured in the attack amounting to more than 100 million leva ($60 million).

Meanwhile, Reuters priced estimate Prosecutor Evgeniya Shtarkelova who spoke with the little group of masked press reporters who existed at the decision: "The court's sentence reflects the punishment we asked for and is adequate to the committed crimes".

Based on DNA evidence, the attack was carried out by 23-year-old Lebanese-French Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini.

Witnesses said he tried to put his backpack inside the luggage compartment of the bus full of Israelis when it exploded.

Prosecutors could not establish whether the explosion was triggered by the bomber himself or remotely detonated by one of two defendants, who were convicted of providing logistical support to the bomber. Close to 40 people were seriously injured.

However, both Farah and Hassan were linked to Hezbollah due to the nature of the bomb, which included ammonium nitrate, a chemical "pointed to the group", said Reuters.

Forensic investigators found that all of the fake drivers licenses used by the terrorists were printed on the same printer at a Lebanese university and that the suspects received money from people linked to Hezbollah.

A public defender for Hassan, lawyer Zhanet Zhelyazkova, countered that evidence for her client's alleged complicity with the attack was "only circumstantial".

A red notice that calls on authorities to arrest a wanted person has been issued by Interpol for Farah and Hassan.

The court ruling is still subject to appeal, which can be lodged within 15 days to a higher court.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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