Greek MEPs Kuneva and Papadimoulis call for transparency in death of Omar Nayef Zayed

OMAR (1)

Members of European Parliament Kostadinka Kuneva and Dimitrios Papadimoulis, representing Greece’s SYRIZA party, issued a statement on the death of Omar Nayef Zayed within the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. Prior to his death, Palestinian leader Leila Khaled, as well as Samidoun representatives, had discussed the case of Nayef Zayed with Papadimoulis in a meeting in his office – four days before his death, Kuneva and Papadimoulis had submitted a question in the European Parliament on his case.

Unofficial translation follows (original statement here):

Shed light on the circumstances of the death of Palestinian Omar Nayef Zayed in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia

“We are shocked by the news of the death of Palestinian Omar Nayef Zayed in the Embassy of Palestine in Sofia last Friday, under unclear conditions of concern and amid many questions. Zayed had taken refuge at the embassy since last December to avoid his extradition to Israel. Just last Monday, we had tabled a question to the European Commission, asking it to guarantee the implementation of international and European law to not extradite people who are persecuted for political matters, including Zayed. We asked the European Commission to prevent a decision which would directly violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights by extraditing a fugitive to a country where they are threatened with torture and degrading treatment, as happened 30 years ago, with the conviction and imprisonment by the Israeli military.

The fact that the Bulgarian justice ministry would soon decide on the extradition request raises additional questions. We demand to shed light on the circumstances of the death of a Palestinian struggler, with the participation of the Palestinian Authority in the investigation.

Also, we ask the European Union and the responsible authorities of the Member States to immediately take all necessary measures for the safety of asylum seekers, especially if they have to face an extradition request from third countries.”

A brief note on the case:

Palestinian Omar Nayef Zayed lived for 22 years in Bulgaria, with his Bulgarian wife and three children. He had taken refuge there after he managed to escape Israel 30 years ago during a hospitalization after 40 days of hunger strike. Zayed was sentenced by a military occupation for the killing of a settler, including secret evidence and “confessions” extracted under torture.

Last December, Israel lodged an extradition request with the Bulgarian authorities. Zayed fled to the embassy of Palestine to avoid arrest and extradition. There was a remarkable solidarity movement opposing his extradition as he was persecuted for a political matter in occupied Palestine 30 years ago.

Zayed, after 70 days of stay at the Embassy of Palestine in Sofia, which has not received security from the Bulgarian authorities for seven years, was found Friday morning by his son and the staff of the Palestinian embassy, bloodied on the ground in the garden of the embassy, apparently after falling from the third floor of the building. He died before he was transferred to hospital. During the night, Zayed was alone and locked in the embassy building. According to the Palestinian ambassador, the Bulgarian authorities did not respond to his request for security to guard the embassy.

It is noted that a day before Zayed’s death, amid public statements noting that assassination is a practice used by the Israeli secret services, the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov, in meetings wth the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, discussed the Zayed extradition case and stressed to both sides that the provisions of the law will be respected.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called for a full investigation of the killing of Zayed and sent a group of Palestinian investigators to participate in the investigation.

On the issue of the Zayed case, SYRIZA MEPs Dimitrios Papadimoulis and Kostadinka Kuneva had submitted a question to the European Commission on Monday, four days before his death.