Terrorist Seeking Refuge in PA’s Bulgarian Embassy Dies Under Suspicious Circumstances

PFLP group (Photo by Thomas R. Koeniges via Wikimedia Commons

Omar Nayef Zayed, a murderer fugitive from Israeli justice, was found dying in the courtyard of the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria on Friday morning, under circumstances officials still do not understand. Bulgarian radio reported he had fallen from a fourth floor window of the embassy.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, quoted a senior Palestinian Authority official who said he “was discovered with serious torso injuries and died before emergency services arrived”. The cause of death has yet to be established and officials are still investigating the incident.

Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov said the body was found outside the embassy by a Palestinian embassy staff member and Zayed’s son. When the ambulance arrived, Zayed was still alive but died before paramedics could transport him to a hospital.

Zayed was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP claimed he had been shot in the head, though Bulgarian officials reported there were no gunshot wounds on the body when the ambulance arrived

PA Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh told reporters on Friday that Zayed was murdered as “a result of the continuing persecution by Israel.”

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“Omar was one of the Palestinian fighters who led the struggle against the occupation and fulfilled his duty to his land and his people,” the ambassador said.

In 1986, Zayed was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering yeshiva student, Eliyahu Amedi, stabbing him to death in the Old City of Jerusalem with the aid of two other Palestinian terrorists, one of whom was his brother, Ahmad. Ahmad Zayed was released from Israeli prison in 2011 as part of the deal to release IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.

After four years in prison, Omar Zayed began a hunger strike and was transferred to a prison in Bethlehem, from which he managed to escape to Bulgaria four years later, where he has been living for the past 20 years, running a grocery store. He married a Bulgarian woman and had three children with her.

Israel requested his extradition in December 2015, but the request was been delayed when Zayed fled to the Palestinian embassy. He has been living there since, sleeping on a sofa. He was supposedly alone in the embassy at the time of the incident, locked inside for his own protection.

Some sources claimed he was unwelcome at the embassy and had even been subtly threatened.

“Since the first day, the embassy was not happy and pushed him to leave,” said Mohammed Khatib, a member of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network based in Brussels. “They didn’t want him to meet us. They turned away lawyers we sent. The whole situation was complicated. The ambassador warned him that if he didn’t leave the embassy, something might happen to him.”

The PA Ambassador denied these claims. PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has sent a team of officials to investigate Zayed’s death. Wafa reported, “The president has condemned the crime in the strongest terms possible and has ordered the members of the [investigation] committee to travel immediately to Bulgaria to discover what happened”.

The situation is considered especially embarrassing for  Bulgaria since Prime Minister Boyko Borrissov was in Israel when Zayed died, and met with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

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Source: Israel in the News