Russian soldiers defrauded account of crash victim: official

7th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Four Russian soldiers defrauded the bank account of a victim of the April 10 air crash of a Polish jet in Russia in which president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died, a Polish prosecutor said Monday.

"One hour and twenty minutes after the catastrophe, the first fraudulent withdrawal was made using one of two bank cards belonging to Andrzej Przewoznik," one of the crash victims, Monika Lewandowska, spokeswoman for the Warsaw regional prosecutor's office told AFP Monday.

"During the three days after the catastrophe, from April 10 to 12, there were a total eleven withdrawals for the total sum of 6,000 zloty (1,445 euros, 1,728 dollars)," Lewandowska said.

Przewoznik, who headed Poland's committee in charge of national war memorials, was part of the delegation en route to Katyn near the western Russian city of Smolensk for a ceremony marking the 1940 massacre of thousands of Polish army officers at the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

The Russian soldiers suspected of defrauding his bank account after his death in the June 10 crash which killed all on board the presidential jet have been arrested, Polish government spokesman Pawel Gras said Monday.

"The authors of this ignoble act have already been arrested in Russia," Gras said.

"They are four Russian soldiers, not officials from the OMON (Russian anti-riot militia) as indicated by error on Sunday," he added. "I made this error as I thought that only OMON militiamen were at the crash site, but other units were also there," Gras said.

According to prosecutors investigating the case, the fraudulent withdrawals were made by four soldiers from one of the units in Smolensk.

"Polish justice authorities have asked their Russian counterparts for judicial aid, notably to provide information on videos monitoring bank machines where the withdrawals were made," Lewandowska said.

"We have not received any response to our demand for the moment," she added.

"The soldiers also made six failed attempts to withdraw cash with a different bank card belonging to Mr. Przewoznik," Lewandowska said.

The Polish president's Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 crashed while trying to land at Smolensk in thick fog. Russian authorities quickly sealed the area of the accident and the wreckage debris was then transported to the airport.

© 2010 AFP

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