Bulgaria Begins Much-delayed Trial on 2012 Attack on Israeli Tourists

The defendants, Australian national Meliad Farah and Canadian national El Hajj Hassa - both also holders of Lebanese citizenship - remain at large for the 2012 attack and are being tried in absentia

A bus that was damaged in a bomb blast seen outside Burgas Airport, Bulgaria, July 19, 2012.

A Bulgarian court on Wednesday opened the much-delayed trial of two men accused of involvement in a deadly attack on an Israeli tourist bus five-and-a-half years ago.

The defendants, Australian national Meliad Farah and Canadian national El Hajj Hassa - both also holders of Lebanese citizenship - remain at large and are being tried in absentia. 

They are accused of helping Mohamad Hassan El Husseini, a Lebanese-born French national, of carrying out the suicide bombing at the airport in the Black Sea resort Burgas in July 2012.

In addition to the five people killed, 35 other Israeli tourists were injured when El Husseini boarded the bus at the airport parking lot and detonated a bomb. A Bulgarian bus driver also died.

Witnesses recounted scenes of chaos and panic after the blast ripped through the bus picking the tourists up at the airport, but none recalled seeing the bomber or the alleged helpers.

Farah and Hassa escaped Bulgaria after the attack. 

Relatives of the victims are seeking a total of 217 million leva (132 million dollars) in damages.

If convicted and caught, the two defendants face life in prison. They are being sought by Interpol.

Bulgarian authorities said that there has been no progress in their capture.