The committee on Monday unanimously approved a resolution drafted by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt and signed in 2014 by 40 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Poland's PAP news agency reported.
The resolution urges Russia to “hand over the wreckage of the Polish Air Force Tu-154 to the competent Polish authorities without further delay."
It says that “the continuing refusal of the Russian authorities to return the wreckage and other evidence constitutes an abuse of rights and has fuelled speculation on the Polish side that Russia has something to hide."
According to Polish conservative MP Arkadiusz Mularczyk, the resolution, which was submitted for adoption by the entire Parliamentary Assembly of the human rights watchdog, gives Poland “a strong mandate to demand the return of the wreckage, the plane’s black boxes and the rest of the evidence from Russia.”
A group of protesters in April staged a demonstration outside the Russian embassy in Warsaw to demand that the authorities in Moscow return the wreckage of the Polish presidential Tu-154 plane, which crashed near Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killing all 96 on board, among them President Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria, and dozens of top officials.
Russian President Vladimir Putin late last year denied Polish suggestions that the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that the 2010 air crash was the result of a Russian conspiracy.
Russia has argued that it cannot return the wreckage because it is conducting its own ongoing investigation into the Smolensk disaster and that the wreckage represents evidence in that probe.
Hints of foul play
A new Polish commission reinvestigating the 2010 crash said in April last year that the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as they neared the runway.
The new commission, which is still probing the crash, was set up by Poland’s conservative governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015.
The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczyński.
PiS has long challenged an official report into the crash issued by the previous Polish government which cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.
A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.