Palestinian delegation arrives in Sofia to join investigation into death of Zayed
A delegation from the Palestinian authority was due in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia on February 27 to investigate the death of Omar Zayed, who had been the subject of an extradition application by Israel to serve out a life sentence for murder and who died in the grounds of the embassy of Palestine on February 26.
Zayed (52) died of his injuries soon after a medical team arrived at the Palestinian embassy on Friday morning.
It has not been established whether Zayed’s death, which one theory holds followed a fall from an upper storey of the embassy building, was the result of foul play. However, Palestinian organisations have rushed to try to put the blame on Israel and its Mossad service.
Speaking to Bulgaria’s local Nova Televizia, Dr Ibrahim Dogmush, head of the Palestinian Association in Bulgaria, and Dr Mohd Abuasi, of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, said that Bulgarian authorities had refused to allow them and representatives of the Palestinian mission to attend the autopsy of Zayed.
Dogmush and Abuasi insisted that Zayed had not killed himself but had been murdered by Mossad.
Dogmush said that Mossad “does whatever it wants in Bulgaria” while Abuasi said that proof of Mossad’s influence was that it, he claimed, had “taken over” the investigation into the July 2012 Bourgas Airport bombing.
In that terrorist attack, which a Bulgarian-led international investigation found to have been the work of the military wing of Hezbollah, five Israelis, a Bulgarian and the bearer of the bomb died, in an attack on an Israeli tourist group that had been heading to a popular Bulgarian seaside resort.
Palestine’s ambassador in Sofia, Ahmed Madbuh, told reporters on February 26 that Zayed had been murdered as a result of what Madbuh called “continuing persecution by Israel”.
Allegations have emerged through local media reports that there were tensions at the embassy over Zayed staying there, and allegedly the ambassador had been pressuring him to leave.
Zayed, a member of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was one of three individuals found guilty of the 1986 murder of a yeshiva student, Eliyahu Amedi, in the old city of Israel’s capital Jerusalem. Zayed was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In April 1990, he went on hunger strike and was transferred to hospital. He escaped and a few years later moved to Bulgaria, where he was later granted permanent residence. His spouse and children, all three of which were born in Bulgaria, have Bulgarian citizenship.
Israel lodged an extradition request to Bulgaria in December 2015. A Bulgarian court issued a search warrant after investigators failed to find Zayed at his home address. Zayed reportedly left his home after receiving a written notice from the Bulgarian Supreme Cassation Prosecution of Israel’s application for his extradition.
The extradition application was based on the European convention on extradition to which Israel became a signatory in 2012.
It also has emerged that there were no security guards or other measures at the Palestine embassy building in Sofia. The night before his death, Zayed had been locked inside the building for his own protection, according to the embassy. There were said to have been no signs of forced entry and there is no confirmation that anyone else was in the building ahead of Zayed’s death.
According to website Middle East Eye, Zayed’s 19-year-old son Mohamed said, “all we want to say now is that what happened was a betrayal”. Overcome by emotion, Mohamed said that he could not say anything else, the website said.