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General falsely accused of pressurizing Smolensk pilots?

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 13.01.2012 10:13
Forensic experts have concluded that the Polish Air Force commander accused of pressurizing pilots to land before the fatal April 2010 Smolensk crash was not, in fact, issuing orders from the cockpit.

A voice which was originally believed to be that of General Andrzej Blasik, who died with 95 others in western Russia, and is often incomprehensible in the recordings, was actually that of co-pilot Major Robert Grzywna, experts say.

The research was carried out by the Jan Sehn Forensic Expertise Institute in Krakow, which is due to hold a press conference on Monday.

The official Russian investigation into the crash, which killed the entire Polish presidential delegation as it travelled to commemorate the WWII Katyn massacre, placed much of the blame on General Blasik.

"The presence of the Polish air force commander in the cockpit in the lead-up to the aircraft's impact with the ground put psychological pressure on the crew captain to decide on continuing descent in a situation of unjustified risk," said Tatyana Anodina, head of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), after the release of the report in December 2010.

The Krakow experts failed to assign all words said in the cockpit to specific individuals, but by comparing earlier recordings of the general, they have ruled out that he said anything during the descent.

In an interview with the Rzeczpospolita daily, Wit Seidler, a spokesman for Smolensk widow Zuzanna Kurtyka, said that the findings were of considerable importance.

“The experts from the Sehn Institute are world-class specialists,” he said.

“If the information is confirmed, it means questioning one of the most important theses regarding pressure on the pilots.”

The official Russian investigation into the crash placed all the blame on the Polish side.

Meanwhile, the Polish investigation released seven months later acknowledged a series of errors on the Polish side, but also highlighted grave errors made at the Russian control tower in Smolensk. (nh/pg)

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