The plane crash near the western Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others. It is still a source of controversy and recriminations.
Interim conclusions of an ongoing Polish probe, presented to the parliament’s defence committee in Warsaw last week, said there was an explosion on the left wing of the plane, then on part of the wing adjacent to the fuselage.
‘Traces of TNT found’
Traces of TNT, hexogen and pentaerythritol tetranitrate explosives were found in the wreckage of the plane, the defence committee was told.
According to the Polish probe, evidence for explosions aboard the presidential jet includes the type of the damage to the plane and the way fragments of the Tupolev Tu-154M jet were scattered, as well as the type of injuries sustained by the victims.
‘The result of a series of deliberate actions’
The Polish parliament’s defence committee was told: "There is no doubt that the tragedy was the result of a series of deliberate actions, both in terms of the overhaul of the Tu-154M aircraft… the preparation of the official government delegation to Katyn, the deliberate, erroneous way the plane was guided in to land a thousand metres before the airport by Russian air traffic controllers, and also the emergencies and explosions that ultimately destroyed the Tupolev."
The delegation on the Polish presidential jet had been flying to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviets during World War II.
Poland’s ruling conservatives have long challenged an official report into the causes of the plane crash issued by the previous Civic Platform-led 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.
A new commission to probe the crash was set up by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in Poland in 2015. The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczyński.
The commission, headed by senior conservative politician Antoni Macierewicz, said in January 2018 that the jet’s left wing was destroyed as a result of an explosion on board.
The commission added that the explosion had “several sources” on the plane.
In April 2017, the commission said that the presidential 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.