SOFIA: Bulgaria will brief other EU nations on the results of the probe that linked Hezbollah to last year’s bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver, Bulgaria’s foreign minister said Sunday.
The findings, announced Tuesday, brought renewed pressure on the European Union from the U.S., Israel and Canada to designate the group a terrorist organization and to crack down on its fundraising operations across Europe.
Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said that in the Feb. 18 meeting of EU foreign ministers Bulgaria’s position would be made clear, and that the EU should also send a clear message to Hezbollah. The EU, which regards Hezbollah as a legitimate political organization, has resisted calls to blacklist Hezbollah or declare it a terrorist organization.
Hezbollah has not directly responded to the accusations.
Mladenov denied that the decision to publicly name Hezbollah as the chief suspect in the July 2012 bombing at the airport in Burgas, which also killed the suspected bomber, was a result of pressure from the United States and Israel, which consider Hezbollah a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said he would travel Tuesday to The Hague where “additional measures will be planned together with Europol director Rob Wainwright to investigate the Burgas terror act on EU territory.”
Tsvetanov said that the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel were helping in the probe.
He said two of the suspects had been living in Lebanon for years – one with a Canadian passport and the other with an Australian one.
“The investigation is entering a new stage: collect direct evidence on the perpetrators of the attack,” Interior Ministry official Kalin Georgiev said Saturday.
Requests regarding the criminal investigation have been sent to several countries including Canada, Australia and Israel, as well as to Lebanon, where Bulgarian officials say the bomber’s two suspected accomplices are believed to live.
“The printer, which had printed out the fake documents of the bus bomber and his two accomplices, has been tracked down to Beirut,” Georgiev said.
He also said that investigators had found out that before the attack the suspects were in Warsaw and traveled via Prague and Romania on their way to Bulgaria.
“They spent some time at the seaside and pulled out on the same route after the attack,” Georgiev said.
While investigators have the names of the two suspects at large, the identity of the bomber remains unknown. The bomber’s DNA samples have been shared with foreign intelligence agencies, but no match has been found in their databases, Tsvetanov said. Investigators also believe a fourth person was involved.
Last week, Tsvetanov revealed that evidence indicated the bomber had not meant to die.
The man “was not a kamikaze but only meant to put the ... explosive device in the baggage compartment of the bus and detonate it later from afar,” he told reporters.
Tsvetanov said the two suspected accomplices had been identified as Australian and Canadian passport holders who “belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.”
Citing sources close to the case, the Standart daily reported Saturday that Bulgaria had asked Lebanon to arrest and interrogate the identified suspects.
It added that Sofia had asked Australia to confirm the identity of one of the suspects who had lived in Bulgaria under the false name of Brian Jameson and allegedly received a wire transfer from Hezbollah.
Canada has already confirmed the identity of the other suspect who went by the false name of “Ricco” in Bulgaria and had lived in Vancouver from age eight to 12.
Israel had immediately blamed Iran and its “terrorist proxy” Hezbollah for the attack.
Iran has denied any involvement, while Hezbollah has denounced Israel for waging an “international campaign” against it, without specifically addressing the bombing.