Bulgaria court to rule in 2012 Israeli bus bombing trial

Relatives mourn over the coffin of one of the five Israelis who were killed during the terror attack on a tour bus in Burgas Bulgaria during a ceremony at the Ben Gurion International Airpor

Two terrorists have been sentenced to life in jail for the 2012 tourist bus bomb attack at Bulgaria's Burgas airport, despite continuing to evade attempts to catch them.

In the attack, a man of dual Lebanese-French citizenship blew up a bomb in a backpack he was carrying close to a bus at the airport.

The two men, Meliad Farah, 39, a dual citizen of Lebanon and Australia, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 32, who had dual Canadian-Lebanese citizenship, were found guilty by judge Judge Adelina Ivanova for their roles in blowing up the bus at the airport in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort city of Burgas on July 18, 2012.

Prosecutors had demanded the maximum sentence of life imprisonment without the chance of parole for the two men, who are being tried in absentia.

It was the deadliest attack against Israelis overseas since 2004. The attack also left more than 35 of the tourists injured.

Based on DNA evidence, the attack was carried out by 23-year-old Lebanese-French Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini.

The authorities in Bulgaria and Israel claim that the attack was bought and performed by Lebanon's Hezbollah, however the Iranian- backed Shia militia has actually constantly rejected any participation.

It also ruled that the two - who had fled Bulgaria and have not been tracked down so far - must pay damages to the families of those who died or were injured in the attack amounting to more than 100 million leva ($60 million).

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According to witness reports, he was trying to put his backpack inside the luggage compartment of the bus when it exploded.

The tourists who were killed were all in their twenties, except for the pregnant woman, aged 42. "Whether it will be served or not will be a result of the search of the wanted persons, which is ongoing", Prosecutor Evgeniya Shtarkelova told reporters.

Shtarkelova however said that the nature of the explosive device, the fake USA driver's licenses used by the two men, their Lebanese descent and some family ties "link both defendants (...) and the attack to the terrorist organization Hezbollah".

Forensic investigators found that all of the fake drivers licenses used by the terrorists were printed on the same printer at a Lebanese university and that the suspects received money from people linked to Hezbollah.

A public defender for Hassan, lawyer Zhanet Zhelyazkova, countered that evidence of her client's complicity with the attack was "only circumstantial".

Farah and Hassan are both still being sought under an Interpol red notice and their current whereabouts is unknown to the prosecution, reported AFP.

The ruling is still subject to appeal in a higher court.

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