AN ISRAELI SURVIVOR of the Hezbollah bombing at Burgas, Bulgaria, on July 19, 2012, is wheeled to a waiting ambulance as he leaves the hospital..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
SOFIA – The latest judicial chapter of the over four-year effort to obtain justice for the victims of a Hezbollah terrorism attack that, killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver, played out on Thursday with an appeal by the driver’s father, Ahmed Kyosev, for Israeli legal representation.
Amid tears Kyosev told The Jerusalem Post that “no one can bring back my son” and he “wishes nobody experiences this and wishes that the Israelis were never killed like this.” He asked whether he can be represented by an Israeli lawyer, because his son died together with Israelis.
“Israelis are very honest people. I want their lawyer to represent me. I am impressed by their honesty and fairness. Israelis will never lie to me or cheat me,” said Kyosev, whose 36-year-old son Mustafa was killed when a Hezbollah operative blew up an Israeli tour bus at the Black Sea resort town of Burgas in 2012.
The Thursday court session, in a special courthouse for organized crime and terrorism, was postponed until December 12.
The trial judge ordered a delay to enable time for the attorneys to contact the Israeli victims and family members. Bulgaria’s legal system requires that the affected parties are served notice about their rights.
The majority of the families have not been informed about the legal proceeding.
Tel Aviv-based lawyer Yaakov Rand, who was present at the hearing, represents nearly 40 families affected by the terrorist attack in a civil claim. Vladislav Yanev, a Bulgarian attorney, represents the family of Kochava Shriki, in a separate civil case.
The 44-year-old Shriki, from Rishon Lezion, was pregnant at the time of the terrorism. Israel’s Foreign Ministry wrote on its website memorial page in 2012 that Shriki “married her husband Yitzhak four years ago, and after years of fertility treatments had received the news that she was pregnant on the morning of their departure for a three-day vacation in Bulgaria.”
Yitzhak said at the time: “I was outside the bus at the time of the blast. My wife was inside. I ran to the bus which had started to go up in flames and yelled to Kochi to jump, but she refused out of fear of injuring the fetus. In the end she burned to death, despite my efforts to save her.”
The terrorism trial is being held in absentia. The suspected terrorists – Lebanese- Canadian Hassan El-Hajj Hassan and Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah – are believed, according to the US government, to be in Lebanon, where they fled shortly after the attack. According to a January Canadian National Post article, Hassan’s father, “Samir Hajhassan, said he had seen his son in Beirut following the bombing.”
Bulgaria has issued an extradition order, but the Lebanese government has not cooperated. The US State Department listed Farah, also known as Hussein Hussein, and Hassan as Specially Designated Global Terrorists for their suspected roles in the Burgas attack.
A third Hezbollah operative – the dual Lebanese-French national Muhammad Hassan el-Husseini – was killed when his explosive device blew up, causing six deaths and 32 injuries. The attack in Burgas prompted the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s so-called military wing a terrorist organization in 2013.