A Bulgarian court handed two no-parole life sentences in a trial over a deadly 2012 bus bomb attack on Israeli tourists at the country’s Burgas airport.
Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah, 31 at the time of the attack, and Lebanese-Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 24, who fled Bulgaria, were both given life sentences following an in absentia trial.
The two are said to have helped the bomber, Franco-Lebanese national Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, to plot the attack and assemble the IED.
The attack in July 2012 killed five Israelis including a pregnant woman, their Bulgarian bus driver and the attacker, and left over 35 people injured in the deadliest against Israelis abroad since 2004.
Airport CCTV footage showed El-Husseini wandering inside the airport’s arrivals hall with a backpack shortly before the explosion that tore through a bus outside the terminal that was headed to Sunny Beach, a popular summer destination on the Black Sea.
According to witness accounts, he tried to put his backpack inside the luggage compartment of the bus full of Israelis when it exploded; the prosecutors have not been able to establish if he triggered the blast himself, or it was done remotely by one of the accomplices.
Bulgarian and Israeli authorities blamed the attack on the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah, playing a part in a subsequent European Union decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.
A number of EU states, including the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, treaded further than that and deemed Hezbollah a terrorist entity in its entirety. The group itself at times mocked the distinction between its military and political components as groundless.