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Former Mossad Chief Said a Suspect in 1973 Plane Crash

February 1, 1989

VENICE, Italy (AP) _ A former head of Israel’s secret service has been named as a suspect in the investigation of the 1973 crash of an Italian military plane, newspapers reported today.

Zvi Zamir, who headed Israel’s Mossad from 1968 to 1974, was formally named by Venice Magistrate Carlo Mastelloni, said Rome’s Il Messaggero and other newspapers. The newspapers said Mossad was suspected of seeking to punish Italy for what Israel considered pro-Arab policies.

Although he was not officially charged, Zamir is being investigated on suspicion of sabotaging the C-47 Dakota plane, the reports said.

The newspaper reports could not be confirmed independently. The magistrate was not in his office when telephoned by The Associated Press.

The Israeli government today refused comment on the reports concerning Zamir, who is now in charge of Israel’s oil refineries in Haifa.

However, the Israeli newspaper Hadashot quoted Avi Pazner, spokesman for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel, as calling the accusations against Zamir ″a bunch of speculation.″

Zamir was not immediately available today, but his wife said he would have no comment on the report.

A few days before the Nov. 23, 1973 crash, the same military plane was used to transport several suspected Palestinian terrorists to Malta, the reports said. The Palestinians had been arrested at Ostia outside Rome while allegedly planning to attack an Israeli airliner.

The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Marghera near Venice, killing four Italian military officials.

A month ago, newspapers in Italy reported Mastelloni was examining a possible Israeli link to the crash. The reports said the head of Mossad activities in Italy in 1973, time, identified as Aba Leven, was also suspected of involvement but that he died a few years ago.

The inquiry into the crash was reopened in 1986 after Italy’s former head of military counter-espionage, Gen. Ambrogio Viviani, alleged in a magazine interview that Mossad had sabotaged the plane.

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