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Israel Brings Charges Against Bulgaria Before International Tribunal

The Government of Israel has asked the International Court of Justice at The Hague to start proceedings against Communist Bulgaria for shooting down an El Al passenger plane in July 1955, which cost the lives of 58 persons, it was announced today.

The Israel Foreign Ministry said the International Court has been asked to declare the Bulgarian Government responsible under international law for shooting down the plane and for the loss of life and property which resulted.

Damages totalling $2,658,000 were claimed by Israel in the application, which also asked court determination of the amount of compensation due from Bulgaria as well as to decide that all costs and expenses of the court action were to be borne by Bulgaria.

Noting that the 58 victims included nationals from Austria, Belgium, France, Wes Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, the Union of South Africa and the United States, the Foreign Ministry said the International Court also had been asked to notify the governments of those countries concerning the Israel court action.

The Foreign Ministry announcement said that Israel had been seeking for two years to get a direct settlement though diplomatic channels to persuade Bulgaria to fulfill a pledge to pay for damages. Despite submission of the issue to the International Court, the Foreign Ministry said, Israel was still willing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Bulgaria.

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