Media listen to military prosecutor denial of newspaper claim: photo - Rafal Gruz
After a morning of blanket coverage from news media outlets following the Rzeczpospolita newspaper breaking the story - with even calls by the leader of the opposition for the prime minister, Donald Tusk, to resign - military prosecutor Col. Ireneusz Szeląg told an expectant press conference in Warsaw that it was not true that traces of explosives were found by the Polish research team, as had been claimed by the newspaper article.
"Traces of explosives were not found,” on the aircraft he said.
A Polish forensic team in Moscow had detected readings of chemicals that could be included in TNT and nitroglycerine but those chemicals are part of the make up many other products as well, the military prosecutor said.
"Evidence and opinions collected so far have in no way provided support to the belief that the crash was a result of actions by third parties, that is to say, an assassination," he added.
In a statement on the Rzeczpospolita web site, later on Tuesday, the newspaper said that they had “made a mistake” claiming that forensic teams had found explosives on parts of the aircraft which crashed near Smolensk on 10 April 2010, killing President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.
In an indication that there was conflict within Rzeczpospolita over the botched report, the “made a mistake” later disappeared from the statement and a simple clarification followed.
“These could be the ingredients of TNT and nitroglycerine, but they do not have to be,” the statement says. “We will have to wait for half a year of laboratory tests until we see if they are explosives.”
Before military prosecutors denied the Rzeczpospolita story, leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) opposition party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski – twin brother of the late president – had commented on what state prosecutors have said was the suicide, Monday, of 43 year-old Remigiusz Muś, a flight engineer in the cockpit of the YAK 40 aircraft, which landed one hour before President Kaczynski's plane crashed near the military airfield in western Russia.
Muś was found after he appeared to have hung himself in a residential block in southern Warsaw.
Despite state prosecutors saying that there was “no evidence of third party involvement” in the death of the engineer, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that this should be thoroughly investigated, because, “murder is highly likely here”.
The flight engineer gave evidence in the Smolensk inquiry that the crew of the doomed TU-154 were allowed by Russian air traffic control 50 metres lower than the official transcript of communications between control and air crew, over what was an airfield thick with fog.
His evidence was significant in the manner of his death, Kaczynski claimed.
The Law and Justice party have always alleged that the real cause of the Smolensk air disaster was not “human error” as both Polish and Russian official reports found, but something more deliberate by hostile political forces in both Poland and Russia to President Kaczynski.
Referring to what turned out to be an incorrect news reports on the explosives, Kaczynski added that “"the murder of 96 people, including the Polish President and other distinguished representatives of public life, is an unheard of crime ", and those responsible “must bear the consequences".
Prime Minister Donald Tusk, clearly annoyed at the accusations, made before by Kaczynski, that his government, even indirectly, was behind the Smolensk air disaster, called a press conference in the afternoon.
”It's hard to imagine a public life in Poland, where the leader of the opposition makes accusations of crimes made by the state and uses the explicit wording of crime, murder and participation of the Polish government,” he said.
“It is impossible to live in a country with people such as Jaroslaw Kaczynski.”
As the bitter political conflict flares up yet again over the death of President Kaczynski, two and a half years after the disaster, Jaroslaw Kaczynski retorted on Tuesday evening: “Does the prime minister want to kill me, or at least, get me out of the country?” (pg)