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Polish investigators to examine plane wreckage in Russia

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 23.08.2018 16:20
A group of Polish investigators will travel to Russia in September to examine the wreckage of a Polish presidential plane that crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk in 2010, according to news agency reports.
The wreckage of the Polish presidential plane shortly after the crash. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/staszewski/CC BY-SA 2.5The wreckage of the Polish presidential plane shortly after the crash. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/staszewski/CC BY-SA 2.5

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, was on Thursday quoted as saying that "Polish investigators will participate in re-examination of material evidence - parts and components of the Tupolev-154M plane kept in Smolensk” from September 3 to 7.

Petrenko said the Russian Investigative Committee “has met” a Polish “request” for investigative procedures, according to a report by Russia’s TASS news agency.

“The procedure and results will be recorded with the use of special equipment and handed over to the Polish side in accordance with established rules,” Petrenko said, as quoted by the Russian state news agency.

A spokeswoman for Poland’s National Public Prosecutor's Office, Ewa Bialik, confirmed that Polish investigators would take part in the inspection, but would not divulge details, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

International pressure

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in June called on Russia to return the wreckage of the Polish presidential 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.

The committee 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, according to Poland's PAP news agency.

The resolution urged Russia to “hand over the wreckage of the Polish Air Force Tu-154 to the competent Polish authorities without further delay."

It said 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."

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.

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.


Source: IAR/PAP, tass.com

tags: Smolensk
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