A symbolic funeral has been held in Gaza for a Palestinian man who died under suspicious circumstances in Bulgaria.

Friends and relatives of Omar Zayed remembered the 52-year-old, whose body was found in the Palestinian embassy's grounds in Sofia on Friday.

Prosecutors are investigating whether he was pushed or fell from a high floor.

Born in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Zayed was convicted and sentenced by an Israeli court to life in prison in 1986 for the killing of an Israeli yeshiva student in occupied East Jerusalem.

Zayed escaped from Israeli custody 25 years ago and had lived in the Bulgarian capital since 1994.

There, he ran a grocery story and attained Bulgarian residency. His wife and three children all have Bulgarian citizenship.


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On December 15 last year, the Israeli embassy in Sofia requested that the Bulgarian government extradite Zayed.

In response, Bulgarian police gave him 72 hours to turn himself in so that he could be sent to Israel.

About four weeks ago, he went to the Palestinian embassy and refused to leave.

Rania, Zayed's widow, is convinced Israel's security services finally caught up with her husband.

"Even from inside the embassy, he was told that Israel has all the keys of the doors," she said at the funeral.

"They told him he was inside the embassy but they can't protect him. They were urging him to go and leave the embassy."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the act as a "crime" and the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas had ordered an investigation into the circumstances of Zayed's death.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said it had learned of the death in the media and was studying the information.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies