JERUSALEM (Aug. 1)
The Israel investigators who inspected the wreckage of the El Al Constellation inside Bulgaria have gained the impression that the plane was attacked by machine gun fire, an Israel Foreign Ministry spoke man said here tonight after the first report from the three investigators was received and studied here. The spokesman further charged the Bulgarians with “tampering” with the evidence of a machine gun attack.
“The first reports from Israel’s inquiry commission to El Al are most disquieting and add gravity to the barbarous character of the outrage,” the spokesman said. He revealed that “numerous bullet holes” were found in the wreckage, which was scattered over a wide area. This became clear, he continued, “in spite of the fact that the parts had obviously been tampered with in an effort to remove incriminating evidence.”
The spokesman also hit the lack of cooperation on the part of the Bulgarian authorities: their granting permission to only three commissioners of six to enter the country; their permitting the investigators to remain only six hours; the fact that Bulgarian officers accompanying the investigators were uncommunicative and unwilling to impart any information, and the fact that the interrogation of Bulgarian witnesses to the incident was not permitted.
The combination of these facts is “alarming,” the spokesman said. In addition, the Bulgarian Government commission–consisting of three Cabinet members and the state prosecutor–which was to investigate the incident “has not seen fit to publish any of its findings.” The Israel Legation in Sofia, the spokesman disclosed, has been instructed to demand full and immediate information on this score, he added.
Inquiries are now being made about the possibilities of extending the investigation to Yugoslav territory, from which the plane came just before it was shot down. After that phase of the study is completed, he said, the Israel investigators will seek to re-enter Bulgaria for further and more detailed studies.