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Bulgaria Promises to Punish the Guilty in Downing of El-al Plane

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The State Department made public this week-end the text of a mote received from Bulgaria on the shooting down of an Israel passenger plane on July 27, in which 58 people, including 12 Americans, perished. The Government makes it clear in her note that she will punish those guilty of causing the catastrophe, will assume responsibility for compensation due to the destroyed El-Al plane.

The note includes the findings of a special governmental commission responsible for investigating the crash and a summary which reads as follows:

“1 The aircraft departed from its route, violated the frontier of the Bulgarian state and without any warning penetrated deeply into the interior of the Bulgarian air space Equipped with the most modern aerial navigating instruments, it could not have failed to be aware of the fact that it had violated Bulgarian air space. Even after having been warned, it did not obey but continued to fly towards the south in the direction of the Bulgarian-Greek frontier.

“2 The Bulgarian anti-aircraft defense units manifested a certain haste and did not take all the steps required to force the aircraft to obey and to land.

“3 The Bulgarian Government likewise considers it necessary to point out the fact that over a period of many years, not respecting the sovereignty of the Peoples Republic of Bulgaria, certain elements have allowed themselves systematically to violate the Bulgarian frontier. During recent years numerous illegal flights over the Bulgarian frontier by aircraft of undetermined nationality have been noted in Bulgaria. During these illegal flights, diversionists have been parachuted into Bulgarian territory equipped with arms, radios and other equipment.”

The note then went on to say that the Bulgarian Government had addressed itself on a number of occasions to the Secretariat of the United Nations about this state of affairs. It pointed out that the “unfortunate accident to the Israeli plane became possible because of the existing state of tension.

“The Bulgarian Government and people express once again their profound regret for this great disaster which has caused the death of completely innocent people.” the note said. “The Bulgarian Government ardently desires that such incidents should never happen again. It will cause to be identified and punished those guilty of causing the catastrophe to the Israeli plane and will take all the necessary steps to insure that such catastrophes are not repeated on Bulgarian territory.

“The Bulgarian Government sympathizes deeply with the relatives of the victims and is prepared to assume responsibility for compensation due to their families, as well as its share of compensation for material damage incurred.” the note concluded

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