Trial of Burgas bombing suspects begins

Two men allegedly linked to Hezbollah go on trial in absentia in Bulgaria over 2012 attack on Israeli tourists.

Elad Benari ,

Terrorist attack in Burgas
Terrorist attack in Burgas

Two men allegedly linked to the Hezbollah terrorist organization went on trial in absentia in Bulgaria on Wednesday over a deadly bomb attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas in July of 2012.

The explosion outside Burgas airport's terminal building tore through a tourist bus bound for the popular beach resorts of the nearby Black Sea.

Five Israelis, the vehicle's Bulgarian driver, and the terrorist alleged to have planted the device, Franco-Lebanese national Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, were killed.

It remains unclear whether Husseini intended to die in the blast or if the device went off by accident.

Bulgarian authorities identified the attacker's alleged accomplices as two Lebanese men with links to the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, named as Australian passport holder Meliad Farah and Canadian citizen Hassan El Hajj Hassan.

Bulgarian authorities believe the suspects fled to Lebanon after the attack and even filed an extradition request to the Lebanese government but their exact whereabouts remain unknown.

"They will be tried in absentia for a terrorist attack and manslaughter of several people as well as for a range of other crimes such as document fraud and preparations for an act of terrorism," prosecutor Krasimir Trenchev told journalists, according to AFP.

The revelation of Hezbollah's involvement in the attack contributed to an EU-wide decision in July of 2013 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.

On Wednesday, the court heard testimony from several witnesses who were present at the airport at the time of the blast.

Survivors and relatives are also expected to testify at a later date, although this could take place via video link from Israel.

The next hearings were set for February 6 and 7. It was unclear how long the trial, the start of which has been delayed several times, will last.