Russia to question top Poles in plane crash probe

8th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia announced Friday it intends to question senior Polish officials as part of its probe into the plane crash that one year ago killed president Lech Kazcynski and 95 others.

The Russian Investigative Committee said the interviews would be conducted jointly by Moscow officials and Polish prosecutors between April 16 and April 30.

The list of Polish officials will include those "responsible for organising and preparing" the April 10, 2010 flight along with "servicemen preparing the plane and the crew," the Russian committee said in a statement.

Russia has already issued an investigative report into the crash that placed the entire blame for the accident in western Russia on the Polish crew and senior officials present on board.

The Moscow report accused the pilots of being poorly prepared and top Polish officials of entering the cockpit to force the crew to land the craft in heavy fog despite warnings from Russian flight control.

Poland has dismissed the politically-explosive charges and accused local air traffic controllers of failing to notify the craft about the exact weather conditions.

Moscow now intends to further support its initial findings before handing the case over to the courts for judgement.

The Russian committee statement was issued as the two sides prepared to mark the one-year anniversary of a disaster that underscored the deeply sensitive nature of the two sides' political ties.

Kazcynski and some of the most senior members of Poland's political and military elite were flying to Smolensk to visit a memorial at Katyn -- site where the Soviet secret police killed more than 20,000 Polish officers in 1940.

Russia only acknowledged responsibility for Katyn just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and began releasing the first secret documents about the tragedy in the months preceding the plane crash.

© 2011 AFP

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