After nine unsuccessful attempts dating back to September 2016, Bulgaria’s Special Criminal Court finally held the first hearing, on December 19, in the trial of two accused of involvement in the July 2012 terrorist attack at Bourgas Airport that left five Israelis, a Bulgarian and a suicide bomber dead.
Under Bulgarian law, the first hearing in the trial dealt with procedural matters, with the judge ruling that there no procedural obstacles preventing the trial from going ahead. The next court hearing, scheduled for January 17 2018, will be on the merits of the case.
Those accused in the terrorist attack on the group of Israeli tourists on July 18 2012 are Meliad Farah, holder of Australian and Lebanese citizenship, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian passport-holder, who face terrorism and document fraud charges in connection with their assistance of Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, who died in the bomb attack on a tourist bus that had been meant to take the Israelis to a popular Bulgarian Black Sea resort.
An international investigation led by Bulgaria established that the terrorist attack was the work of the military wing of Hezbollah. This led to the European Union declaring Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organisation.
The two accused are the subject of an Interpol search warrant but have not been taken into custody, which is why the trial is being held in absentia.
At a previous attempted trial hearing, it emerged that those injured in the terrorist attack have lodged claims for compensation to a total of 220 million leva.
(Photo of the bus targeted in the terrorist attack in Bourgas in July 2012: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)