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Bulgaria Seeks Trial by April for Burgas Bombing Suspects

Bulgaria is planning to open a trial by April for two suspects in the attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Burgas.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/13/2013, 5:14 AM

ZAKA team at Burgas
ZAKA team at Burgas
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Bulgaria is planning to open a trial by April for a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists at an airport last year, the chief prosecutor said Thursday.

"Our ambition is to go to court... by the end of the first three months of next year at the maximum," Sotir Tsatsarov told journalists, according to the AFP news agency.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near an Israeli-packed tourist bus at the airport in Burgas, a popular Black Sea destination, on July 18, 2012, killing five tourists and their Bulgarian driver.

Six months into the investigation, Bulgaria said the bomber had been helped by two Lebanese-born Australian and Canadian passport holders with links to the military wing of Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

Bulgaria later identified the accomplices as Australian national Meliad Farah, 32, also known as Hussein Hussein, and Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 25.

Tsatsarov said investigators know the current whereabouts of the two suspects, who are no longer residing in Australia and Canada, but have not yet demanded their extradition.

"If these persons are turned over to the Bulgarian authorities, they will be brought to court. If not, they will face a trial in absentia," he said.

"Bear in mind that we will not put an organization on trial, but concrete persons, as is normal in a criminal procedure," he added.

The revelation of Hezbollah's involvement in the attack contributed to an EU-wide decision in July to blacklist Hezbollah as a terror group. However, the EU chose to only blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing”, leaving its political faction off the list.

It has also been reported that Hezbollah wired almost $100,000 (75,000 euros) to the two suspects wanted in the attack.