LONDON (Jul. 13)
To the best knowledge of the British government, Mrs. Dora, Bloch “is no longer alive.” the Minister of State at the Foreign Office. Edward Rowlands, told Parliament yesterday afternoon. “In whatever circumstances Mrs. Bloch’s death took place, the Uganda government must bring those responsible to justice,” he said, adding that the government would press “most strongly” for this. He said the government was not satisfied with the results of inquiries made by the Ugandan authorities to date.
A newspaper in Nairobi, Kenya, reported this morning that the partly burned body of Mrs. Bloch was seen in a forest 11 miles from Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Joe Rodriguez, managing editor of the Kenya Nation, said on a BBC interview today that the information was supplied by a Ugandan who said he saw the body of a white woman which was charred except for its right hand and a leg which was ulcerated. The Ugandan was not identified.
Labor MP Michael Foot, leader of the House of Commons, said this afternoon that he was unable to confirm this report. According to the newspaper, the informant said he had gone to the forest with a party of Ugandan soldiers and that he saw the bodies of three Entebbe Airport radar operators near the body of the woman. The forest was described as a place where people are shot or bodies dumped and where families go to search for missing relatives.
Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies of British Jews urged the government to demand that Uganda hand over the remains of Mrs. Bloch “for decent burial beside her late husband” In Israel.
CRIES OF ‘SHAME, SHAME’
The government’s conclusion about the fate of Mrs. Bloch, a 75-year-old Air France hijack hostage who held dual British-Israeli citizenship, was based on the report given the Foreign Office by the British High Commissioner for Uganda, James Hennessy. Hennessy returned from Kampala yesterday after a fruitless mission to ascertain the whereabouts of Mrs. Bloch. Rowlands said “There seems little doubt that Mrs. Bloch was taken from her room at Mulago Hospital (in Kampala) at about 9:30 a.m. local time on July 4 and that she is no longer alive.”
He expressed condolences to her family. The time of her removal from the hospital confirmed that, contrary to Ugandan claims, she was at the hospital when Israeli commandos rescued more than 100 hostages being held at Entebbe Airport during the night of July 3.
Rowland’s announcement was greeted with cries of “shame, shame” from MPs. They were directed not only at Uganda but what many regard as the weak posture of the British government toward Uganda. A number of MPs have expressed dissatisfaction that the government has not officially recalled its High Commissioner and that Foreign Office statements have stopped short of denouncing Uganda’s role in the hijacking and explicitly rejecting Uganda’s obvious lies about the circumstances of Mrs. Bloch’s disappearance.
Greville Janner, a Labor MP who is vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that Mrs. Bloch’s son had asked him to convey the family’s deep appreciation for the help rendered by the British government. He said the family attributes the blame solely to President Idi Amin of Uganda “without whom nothing happens in that country.” He said the Bloch family wanted the government to continue to do its best to determine if Mrs. Bloch was alive or to see that her body is returned to Israel for burial. Rowlands replied that he would be offering “cruel hope” to say that Mrs. Bloch was still alive.