2 sentenced to life in absentia over Bulgarian bus bombing

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A Bulgarian court on Monday sentenced two men to life in prison for their involvement in the 2012 bombing of a tourist bus that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver and injured nearly 40 people.

Meliad Farah, a dual Lebanese-Australian national, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a dual Lebanese-Canadian national, were sentenced in absentia as their whereabouts are unknown, said prosecutor Evgenia Shtarkelova. They are the subject of an Interpol red notice.

On July 18, 2012, Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, a French-Lebanese national, blew himself up on a tourist bus at the airport in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Burgas.

According to witness reports, the man was trying to put his backpack inside the luggage compartment of the bus along with the Israeli tourists when it exploded.

Prosecutors could not establish whether the explosion was triggered by the bomber himself or remotely detonated by one of two defendants, who were convicted of providing logistical support to the bomber.

An investigation found that the attack was the work of the military wing of Hezbollah, leading the European Union to declare it a terrorist organization.

Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor said recently that Hezbollah was behind the attack “in terms of logistics and financing”.

The ruling can be appealed to a higher court.

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