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First charges brought over Smolensk air disaster

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 24.08.2011 09:16
The first charges relating to the the 2010 Smolensk air disaster have been made, with two officers from the 36th Special Air Transport Regiment standing accused of “failing to fulfil duties”.


The move comes in the wake of the publication of Poland's official report on the disaster, which was released on 29 July, into the cause of the crash in western Russia that killed all 96 on board including President Lech Kaczynski.

Poland's military took much of the blame for its handling of the doomed flight, and Minister of Defence Bogdan Klich was obliged to resign.

The 36th Special Air Transport Regiment – which organised the flight - was singled out as especially culpable, and it was disbanded within a week of publication of the report.

The Chief Military Prosecutor's Office was initially tight-lipped about the current charges, withholding both the names and ranks of the accused men.

However, Colonel Marcin Maksjan, who represents the office, stated that the charges involve a “failure to fulfil duties,” and that the accused could face three years in prison.

Polish tabloid Fakt has since discovered that one of the men facing charges is Colonel Ryszard Raczynski, who formerly commanded the regiment.

Both men are pleading not guilty.

It has been claimed that three of the four crew members that piloted the Smolensk flight were not fully entitled to carry out the job. Among other factors, they had not accumulated enough flying hours.

Analysts predict that other military oversights are set to prompt further waves of charges. (nh)

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