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Opposition party welcomes reopened Smolensk disaster probe

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 21.03.2013 10:29
Opposition party Law and Justice has welcomed a Warsaw court's reopening of an investigation into civil responsibility for organising the doomed April 2010 Tu-154 flight to Smolensk.

Tu-154 wreckage: photo - Polish Radio - Wlodzimierz Pac

Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose twin brother former president Lech Kaczynski died in the 2010 crash, had appealed against the June 2012 decision to drop the investigation, together with his niece Marta Kaczynska.

Speaking with Polish Radio on Thursday, Mariusz Blaszczak, head of the party's parliamentary club, said that the original decision to drop the case was “amazing” and that yesterday's about-turn was “a breakthrough decision.”

The case concerns preparations for the April 2010 flight made by several state offices, including the chancelleries of the prime minister and president, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Polish Embassy in Russia.

A separate investigation is being led by military prosecutors, looking at responsibility within the armed forces, as the Tu-154 plane itself operated under the Ministry of Defence.

In June, the district court of Warsaw-Praga had ruled that charges could not be pressed as no one had been awarded “victim status.”

However, the court has now awarded this status to families of the crash victims.

Mariusz Blaszczak noted today that following the suspension of the case in June, prosecutors had sent letters to several ministries claiming that “irregularities” had occurred in the organisation of the flight.

In the wake of the crash, it emerged that presidential planes were not cleared to land at minor airports such as the military facility in Smolensk.

Some 96 Poles, including MPs from several parties, died in the April 2010 catastrophe, and the disaster continues to be a highly divisive issue in Poland. Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has claimed on several occasions that sabotage led to the crash.

Official Polish and Russian reports found that the crash, which took place in thick fog, was an accident. Opinion polls indicate that about 70 percent of the Polish population agree with this thesis. (nh)

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