Poland axes 13 top officers after plane crash rpt

Last Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 21:30

Warsaw: Three Polish air force generals
and 10 other top officers have been fired after a probe into
last year`s plane crash that killed president Lech Kaczynski,
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday.

Tusk told reporters he had accepted the decision to
fire the officers taken by new Defence Minister Tomasz
Siemioniak, whose predecessor Bogdan Klich quit Friday after
an inquiry found that the military crew of Kaczynski`s plane
were ill-trained and ill-prepared.

Tusk said that Czeslaw Piatas, a deputy defence
minister, was also leaving his job, and that the air force
unit responsible for transporting top officials would be
disbanded.

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

The plane`s pilots attempted to land in fog ahead of a
memorial ceremony in the nearby Katyn forest for thousands of
Polish prisoners of war slain by the Soviets in 1940.

Friday`s long-awaited report from a Polish government
commission said the pilots of the Russian-made Tupolev-154
made a series of errors and blamed hasty, haphazard training
that violated regulations.

The navigator`s Russian was weak, and the
meteorological information was incomplete, the inquiry
commission said, while also pointing to shortcomings at
Smolensk airport.

The commission ruled out sabotage and pressure from
third parties on the crew to land for the high-profile
anniversary ceremony despite the weather.

On Tuesday, investigators in Russia insisted that
Poland`s air force chief, who perished in the crash, had
pushed the pilots to land come what may.

Russian investigators have said the direct cause of
the crash was the failure of the crew to divert to a
substitute airport after learning of the poor weather
conditions at Smolensk.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 21:30

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