A Palestinian fugitive terrorist was found dead inside the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria on Friday, raising fears he may have been assassinated by Mossad agents.
The body of Omar Nayef Zayed, a convicted terrorist who evaded Israeli authorities for more than 25 years, was found in the garden of the Palestinian embassy in Sofia on Friday morning.
He appears to have died after plummeting from one of the floors of an embassy building, but Bulgarian prosecutors could not confirm if he fell or was pushed.
Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov said there were no gunshot wounds on the body and that Zayed was still alive when the ambulance arrived, but died before reaching hospital.
Prosecutors said initially that they had been alerted by a representative of the Palestinian mission “about a man who died as a result of violence”, but a spokeswoman for the prosecutors later said no signs of violence were found on his body.
His brother Hamza insisted the body bore the hallmarks of a Mossad killing, such as traumatic injuries to its upper half. “We must not rule out that the assassination was carried out by Israeli Intelligence services in co-operation with the security staff at the Palestinian embassy,” he said.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also blamed Israel’s secret service for Zayed’s death, adding that they blamed “the highest levels” of the Palestinian Authority for failing to protect him.
A spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry denied any involvement in Zayed’s death.
Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an urgent investigation into what he described as a “heinous” crime.
Zayed was convicted in 1986 of stabbing a Jewish seminary student to death in Jerusalem’s Old City and was sentenced to a life term imprisonment.
Four years into his sentence he managed to escape during a hunger strike and arrived in Bulgaria in 1994, where he married and had three children.
Last December Israel issued a formal request to the Bulgarian authorities to extradite the terrorist.
Two days later Bulgarian authorities raided his home, arresting his 18-year-old son while Zayed sought protection at the Palestinian embassy in Sofia.
In a press release that month, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Sofia, Ahmad Madbough, said the embassy would not comply with the extradition order.
The incident comes as Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov met Israeli and Palestinian leaders on a visit to the region this week.