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Polish prosecutors probing plane wreckage in Russia

Staff Writer |
A group of Polish prosecutors were on Monday starting work on examining the wreckage of a Polish presidential plane that crashed near the western Russian city of Smolensk in 2010.

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Polish private broadcaster TVN reported that Russian officials would examine the plane wreckage, while five Polish prosecutors and three technical staff would accompany them. TVN added that it was the Russians who would draw up a report on the probe and hand it over to Polish officials.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee was last month quoted as saying that Polish investigators “will participate in re-examination of material evidence - parts and components of the Tupolev-154M plane kept in Smolensk” from September 3 to 7.

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in June called on Russia to return the wreckage of the Polish presidential plane, which crashed near Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killing all 96 on board, among them President Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria, and dozens of top officials.

A new Polish commission reinvestigating the 2010 crash said in April last year that the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as they neared the runway.

The new commission, which is still probing the crash, was set up by Poland’s conservative governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015.

The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczyński.

PiS has long challenged an official report into the crash issued by the previous Polish government which cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.

A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.

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