Poland to probe 'Russian role' in 2010 presidential crash

4th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Poland's right-wing government on Thursday launched a fresh probe into a 2010 Polish presidential jet crash in Russia, arguing that key facts pointing to "Russia's responsibility" were "hidden" during a previous investigation.

Regarded as Poland's worst peacetime disaster, the crash killed then president Lech Kaczynski and 95 other mostly senior officials.

He was the twin brother of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party that swept back to power in October after eight years in opposition.

Right-wing politicians have long insisted the crash was no accident, even though both Polish and Russian investigators found that pilot error, bad weather and poor air traffic control were to blame.

Launching the new probe, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said that previously ignored findings of a special Polish government sub-commission had "clearly and unequivocally found Russia responsible for the course of events".

Macierewicz did not specify how Russia was linked to the crash.

"Basic facts and information that fundamentally change our view of what happened were hidden," he said, adding that evidence had also been destroyed.

"These clear facts were rejected" by the final report of the inquiry that was conducted under Poland's previous liberal government, he added.

Macierewicz however insisted that "no theory has been adopted" about what actually caused the crash.

He said the new investigation would also focus on "events linked to the renovation of the plane (in Russia) -- which were never previously investigated."

Suggesting a cover-up, he spoke of "the destruction of over 400 pages of information and reports that were handed over to the Polish army general staff."

"These were reports by state institutions detailing preparations made by special services for an operation aimed at preventing the truth from being discovered."

The crash occurred as a Polish state delegation was en route to memorial ceremonies in Russia's Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by the Soviet secret police in 1940, a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.

A 2015 Polish opinion poll found that 22 percent of respondents believed the crash was an assassination.

The rest blamed other factors, including 37 percent who thought the pilots were pressured to land despite heavy fog.

© 2016 AFP

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