Sarafovo Airport Bombing Trial Starts at Specialized Criminal Court

Sofia, January 17 (BTA) - The Bourgas Sarafovo bus bombing trial started at the Specialized Criminal Court here on Wednesday with questioning of witnesses.

On July 18, 2012 a suicide bomber blew himself up near a bus carrying Israeli tourists at Sarafovo Airport in the coastal city of Bourgas. The explosion killed six, including the Bulgarian bus driver, and injured another 37.

The defendants, who are still at large, are Hassan El Hajj Hassan (dual Lebanese-Canadian national) and Meliad Farah (dual Lebanese-Australian national). They are charged with aiding Mohamad Hassan El Husseini (dual Lebanese-French citizen), who has been identified as the suicide bomber.

This is the first trial involving a suicide terrorist bombing in Bulgaria contemporary history, which went ahead after several failed attempts.

The Israeli citizens, who are parties to the case and witnesses of the terrorist attack, did not appear in court on Wednesday.

Stoyan Stoyanov, a taxi driver at the Airport, told the court that he was standing some 70 metres away from the bus and heard two explosions a few seconds apart. According to him, there was debris scattered in a 50-metre radius from the site of the explosion. He told journalists that security at the Airport had been tightened dramatically since the bombing and now everything was checked. A colleague of Stoyanov said he walked past the suicide bomber and saw him but did not realize it was him.

Other witnesses said that complete panic and chaos ensued after the explosion. They noted that the bombing occurred on a Wednesday which was not a busy day. The questioned witnesses further said that access to the parking area and to the Airport's terminal was unrestricted at the time and anyone could have entered. They also said that the victims were attended to immediately and the area was sealed off.

The testimony revealed that there were only two border police officers patrolling that day, who were working a 12 hour shift from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. The police officers testified that they did not have the means to check everyone coming into the parking lot and entering the Airport. They did not see the bomber, nor did they notice anything suspicious among the people at the Airport.

The Prosecutor, Krassimir Trenchev, told journalists that lax security at the Airport at that time had facilitated the bomber.

The trial will proceed on February 6 and 7 with the questioning of further witnesses, many of whom are Interior Ministry employees.

Source: Sofia