Widow says kept in dark over Palestinian's mystery death in Sofia

A policemen stands guard near the compound of the Palestinian embassy in Sofia on February 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Sofia (AFP) - The widow of a Palestinian militant who died under mysterious circumstances in Bulgaria last month accused authorities on Wednesday of keeping her in the dark about their investigation.

Omar Nayef, who was wanted by Israel over the killing of a Jewish settler three decades ago, was found dead in the courtyard of the Palestinian embassy in Sofia on February 26.

Local media reported that the 51-year-old had fallen from the fourth floor, while a senior Palestinian Authority official said he had suffered "serious torso injuries".

Nayef's widow accuses Israel of assassinating him.

She said he had "sought refuge in the embassy two months ago" after receiving threats.

On Wednesday, the widow and her three children staged a protest outside the court of justice in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

"The authorities have not given us any details about the medical examination or released my husband's body so I can bury him," she told AFP.

She threatened to take the case to the European Court of Justice "if the outcome... isn't announced soon".

But a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said no details would be revealed at this stage.

"Keeping the investigation secret is essential to our work," Rumyana Arnaudova told AFP.

Nayef, a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 over the stabbing of a 22-year-old Jewish student in Jerusalem.

He escaped four years later while being moved to hospital during a hunger strike.

After going into hiding, Nayev eventually fled to Bulgaria in 1994 and married Mahmoud, a Palestinian who holds Bulgarian citizenship.

Last year Sofia agreed to examine an Israeli extradition request, but a December hearing was postponed because Nayef was not at his address, the Bulgarian interior ministry said.

The Israeli government has not officially commented on the incident, but Israeli public radio last month quoted "a security source" as saying that "Israel has no interest in striking at an elderly terrorist, especially if it involves danger or committing resources".

The head of the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, attacked what he described as "a new Zionist crime".

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has announced the formation of a special commission of enquiry to look into the case.

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