Bourgas Airport bombing trial: Prosecution leaves Hezbollah and terrorism out of the case

Written by on February 1, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bourgas Airport bombing trial: Prosecution leaves Hezbollah and terrorism out of the case

In the Bourgas bombing trial, the Bulgarian state prosecution is refraining from implicating Hezbollah, in spite of evidence mentioned by former government officials, the Jerusalem Post reports. Neither is terrorism among the charges against Meliad Farah, holder of Australian and Lebanese citizenship, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian passport-holder.

The word Hezbollah does not appear in the indictment against the accused, the report says. Neither does the formal charge mention standard terrorism offences. The murder of five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian bus driver on July 18, 2012, is not being connected to terrorism, in the indictment.

According to the Jerusalem Post, a brief reference to Bulgarian Penal Code Section 108(a) regarding disturbing the public order is included in the charges instead.

The Israeli daily points out that there is a direct contradiction between the content of the formal charges and evidence mentioned since the bombing. It quotes the Bulgarian Interior Minister at the time of the attack, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who said in 2012, the two perpetrators were Hezbollah members, and that data showed “the financing and connection” between Hezbollah and the suspects.

Hezbollah’s armed wing was placed on the European Union’s blacklist, in part because of the evidence collected during the investigation into the Bourgas Airport bombing.

Because of the contradictions, the Jerusalem Post writes it contacted the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry in Sofia. The response had said that “the content of the indictment is completely within the competences of the prosecutor, who is in charge of the case. Neither Tsvetan Tsvetanov, in his capacity as then-Interior Minister, nor any other ministry or incumbent minister pay whatever regard to the decisions and legal acts of the judiciary.”

Apart from Bulgarian government members, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has connected the Bourgas Bombing to Hezbollah, which was “directly responsible for the heinous act in Bourgas.”

In addition, Hezbollah’s connection to the Bourgas Bombing was mentioned in a separate trial in the United States, against Samer El-Debek, who was accused of being part of a Hezbollah cell. In that trial, an FBI agent said El-Debek had received training as a bomb maker, “in techniques and methods similar to those used to construct the improvised explosive device used in Hezbollah’s 2012 Bourgas bus bombing.”

At this stage it is unclear why neither Hezbollah nor actual terrorism charges are part of the indictment against Farah and El-Husseini.

The trial was delayed for several years. It finally commenced on January 17, 2018. On that day, witnesses said there had been “chaos and panic”. It turned out that only two border police officers were on duty that day, at Bourgas Airport.

The Jerusalem Post article quoted can be accessed here.

 

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