Seventeen days after the death of Omar Nayef Zayed inside the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, his family reiterated their call for a professional and independent investigation into the killing of the former Palestinian prisoner, who had taken refuge inside the embassy from an Israeli extradition request being carried out by Bulgarian security forces.
Nayef Zayed, 52, had lived in Bulgaria for 22 years after escaping Israeli imprisonment following a 40-day hunger strike in 1990. He is married to a Bulgarian woman and has three children, all of whom are Bulgarian citizens. He spent 70 days inside the embassy seeking refuge from an Israeli demand for his extradition following a raid on his home by Bulgarian police.
Large protests in Jenin, his hometown, and in Gaza were held on Friday and Saturday, 11 March and 12 March, calling for justice in his case and accountability for the three responsible parties in his death: the Israeli state and its intelligence agencies; the Bulgarian state; and the Palestinian Authority.
Ahmad Nayef, Omar’s brother, spoke at the march in Jenin, warned of attempts to manipulate the medical and criminal report on Omar’s case, saying that it has been delayed repeatedly, and demanded that the Palestinian side appoint a committee of medical, legal and investigative experts rather than of PA officials to engage in a real investigation of the case.
Khader Adnan, former Palestinian prisoner and long-term hunger striker, said that “Omar’s case revealed the shortcomings and the truths about our institutions, embasssies and diplomacy abroad.” He called on the PA Foreign Minister to resign, saying that “The responsibility falls to the ambassador and the security team, and those who fall short must step aside. The first thing that should happen is to resign before our people, and then a thorough investigation at all Palestinian levels.”
Nayef Zayed’s comrades in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement on Sunday, 13 March, saying that throughout his time in the embassy, he was subject to continual pressure from the Ambassador, Ahmad al-Madhbouh and various members of the embassy staff. He was denied visits from doctors, lawyers, solidarity delegations and Palestinian community delegations, and was repeatedly threatened with denial of visits from his wife.
Samidoun representatives, including international coordinator Charlotte Kates, were among those prohibited by the ambassador from meeting with Nayef Zayed within the Palestinian embassy.
The PFLP endorsed the family’s call for a professional and specialized independent investigation committee, including an independent autopsy by Palestinian pathologists, and demanded that the case be raised on international levels for holding those responsible accountable. It stated that “the Zionist enemy and its security forces are responsible for the killing of the martyred comrade.” It also demanded that the Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki be dismissed, along with the ambassador Ahmad al-Madhbouh, with the summoning of Madhbouh and other security staff at the embassy for direct questioning and investigation in their role in the killing of Nayef Zayed.