Sarafovo terror case to be heard in Israel
The families of the victims insist that Hezbollah be cited as a defendant in the lawsuit
22 July, 2017
The families of the victims returned to Sarafovo one more time this year to commemorate their relatives.
The case involving the Sarafovo Airport terrorist attack may be heard at the Bulgarian Embassy in Israel, if problems stemming from subpoenaing affected people continue. The news came from Georgi Ushev, head of the specialised criminal court, on 18 July, which marked the fifth anniversary from the deadly attack on a bus full of unsuspecting tourists.
“If the judge monitoring the case files such a request, I will facilitate the move. It might be cheaper for the Bulgarian state to send there the panel of judges than to cover the expenses of all the people affected,” said judge Ushev. On 18 July Bulgaria marked the fifth anniversary from the deadly attack, in which the luggage compartment of a bus on the Sarafovo Airport’s parking lot was blasted, killing five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver Mustafa Kyosev and injuring 35 other foreign citizens. Following an investigation aided by information from foreign security agencies, it was established that the bomb was set off by the Algerian citizen Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, who died in the attack.
The case is tried in absentia against two individuals charged as accomplices - Meliad Farah, a native of Lebanon with Australian passport, and Hassan El-Hajj Hassan, who has a dual Canadian and Lebanese citizenship. Their whereabouts are currently unknown and they are wanted under red notices issued by the Interpol.
According to judge Ushev, the case is treading water for objective reasons. The heirs of the people killed or injured in the attack live in Israel, and under the Bulgarian law, the court is obligated to provide all of them with an opportunity to participate in the trial - to lodge a civil claim or register as a supplementary prosecutor.
“You can imagine what a daunting task it is to bring all these people in for a hearing. Most of them have authorised wards or attorneys to represent them but there are still some who have not done so. There are only two Israeli citizens who are yet to be located and subpoenaed. Subpoenaing people in other countries is always problematic. Everybody wants to exercise their rights, their trips to Bulgaria require great expenses,” added judge Ushev.
For almost a year now, the case has failed to get off the ground because of problems surrounding subpoenaing all 45 Israeli citizens.
Judge Ushev revealed that the families of the victims and the injured in the attack have demanded that the military branch of the Hezbollah be cited as a civil defendant in the case. The motion was officially filed at the beginning of the year but the court is yet to rule on it. It is believed that it was the military branch of Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist group, that was responsible for the bombing.
On 18 July, the Israeli consul to Bulgaria Asher Hoffman visited the hospital in Burgas where doctors fought for the lives of the tourists injured at the Sarafovo Airport attack. Hoffman was accompanied by Israel’s honorary consul to Burgas Orlin Mandov.
For five years now, every 18 July Burgas holds a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the attack. Since that day, the Israeli state has constantly expressed its gratitude for the hospital staff’s efforts to save the lives of the injured tourists.
“I came to thank you again,” said Hoffman.