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Panel asks prosecutors to probe 2010 Polish air crash as 'possible assassination of president'

17.04.2023 23:55
A Polish government panel probing the 2010 Smolensk air crash, which killed Poland’s then-President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others, has formally asked the prosecutor-general to investigate the disaster as a potential "premeditated assassination" of the head of state and murder of the other people on board.
Antoni Macierewicz.
Antoni Macierewicz.PAP/Piotr Nowak

The so-called Smolensk commission, which works under the auspices of Poland’s defence ministry, submitted a formal “report of a possible crime” to Prosecutor-General Zbigniew Ziobro on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

The report notified the prosecutor-general that the 2010 Smolensk air crash may have been "a pre-planned assassination" of President Lech Kaczyński and murder of 95 other people, according to officials.

In the document, the head of the Smolensk commission, Antoni Macierewicz, invoked article 135 of the Criminal Code, which refers to “making an attempt on the life of the president of Poland,” article 148, which refers to “murder arising from an especially reprehensible motive and with the use of explosive devices,” and article 128, which refers to “a violent overthrow of a constitutional organ of the Republic of Poland,” public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Marta Palonek, a spokeswoman for the Smolensk commission, told IAR that the “report of a possible crime” also mentioned articles of the Criminal Code that refer to murder and terrorist attacks with the use of explosive material.

In an interview with Polish Radio on Monday morning, Macierewicz said that the “report of a possible crime” was 1,500 pages long, including attachments, and contained a new, previously unpublished, 800-page analysis showing "the interference of Russian authorities in Polish matters." 

Meanwhile, attachments to the “report of a possible crime” include analytical studies and evidence collated by the commission, as well as a report on the Smolensk disaster itself, how it unfolded and what caused it, IAR reported.

Macierewicz recently told PAP: “We cannot continue to have a situation whereby we have evidence of an assassination and there are no proceedings to investigate this terrible act.”

The new panel to reinvestigate the 2010 Smolensk crash was set up by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015.

The party's head, Jarosław Kaczyński, is the twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczyński.

The plane crash near the western Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and dozens of top officials. It is still a source of controversy and recriminations.

The ruling conservatives have 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.

Last year, the panel led by Macierewicz unveiled its findings in a 338-page report that claimed the disaster 12 years ago was caused by "at least two blasts" and by "political factors."

A Russian report had placed all the blame on the Poles.


Source: IAR, PAP, dorzeczy.plniezalezna.pl