Two Polish officers charged in presidential air disaster

22nd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Military prosecutors in Poland on Monday charged two officers with negligence in connection with last year's plane crash that killed president Lech Kaczynski, seen as a key issue in upcoming general elections.

The officers whose names were not made public were accused of "having neglected their duties" and could face up to three years behind bars if found guilty as charged, a prosecutors' spokesman told the press.

The men worked for a military aviation unit responsible for organising flights for Polish officials. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Last month Poland's former defence minister Bogdan Klich and his deputy resigned after a government commission of inquiry found the military crew of the presidential jet were ill-trained and ill-prepared.

Kaczynski, his wife and all 94 other Poles including the central bank governor and most of the country's military top brass died on April 10, 2010 when Warsaw's presidential jet crashed in Smolensk, western Russia.

Earlier this month, Poland's centre-right Prime Minister Donald Tusk -- under fire for his handling of the crash from Kaczynski's twin brother, conservative opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski -- also announced that three air force generals and 10 other top officers had been sacked.

The news that heads had rolled came hours after President Bronislaw Komorowski, a key Tusk ally, announced that Poland's general election would take place on October 9.

Recent polls have shown Tusk's centrist Civic Platform to have a comfortable lead over Kaczynski's opposition Law and Justice which took second spot.

© 2011 AFP

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