Polish right questions presidential jet crash six years on

Poland marked the sixth anniversary Sunday of the jet crash that killed then president Lech Kaczynski amid louder-than-ever claims it was no accident -- fuelled by his twin brother`s party winning power last year.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 11, 2016, 08:21 AM IST

Warsaw: Poland marked the sixth anniversary Sunday of the jet crash that killed then president Lech Kaczynski amid louder-than-ever claims it was no accident -- fuelled by his twin brother`s party winning power last year.

"The previous government is responsible for this tragedy, at least morally," Jaroslaw Kaczynski told tens of thousands of Poles gathered outside the presidential palace on Sunday.
The surviving twin heads the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party that won October elections, enabling it to revive a probe into the 2010 air crash in Russia that also killed 95 others.

The party, which had been in opposition for eight years, rejects the previous liberal government`s conclusions that pilot error, poor weather and poor air traffic control were to blame.
Most of those who died when the plane came down in Smolensk, western Russia on April 10, 2010 were senior Polish state officials, including its military chief of staff and central banker.

The delegation was heading for memorial ceremonies in Russia`s Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by the Soviet secret police in 1940, a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.

The head of the new investigative subcommittee, Waclaw Berczynski, last week reiterated his theory that the Tupolev 154 exploded mid-air, although he offered no proof.

"We can say with great probability, practically with near certainty, that the aircraft broke apart mid-air," he told the Catholic weekly Gosc Niedzielny."The PiS won`t stop engaging in political necrophilia on the victims` graves," Rafal Grupinski, a lawmaker with the liberal opposition party Civic Platform (PO), which was in power at the time of the crash, said Saturday.

Experts from the government of then premier Donald Tusk -- now European Council president -- and Russian investigators have all dismissed assassination theories which surfaced almost immediately after the tragedy.

The new committee has not ruled out exhuming corpses for a fresh round of autopsies, raising doubts over those conducted by Russia just after the crash.
But the main purpose of the probe is to find those responsible.

PiS leaders have accused Tusk of having a hand in the disaster, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, long considered an enemy of Poland by the Polish right.

They have increasingly clamoured for Tusk to stand trial, a call reiterated by Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz on the eve of the anniversary.

The minister, the main proponent of the theory that the crash was a political assassination, said on public television that it was "evident that Tusk should suffer all the consequences of his actions".

Others want a more extreme outcome, including journalist Ewa Stankiewicz, who works for the ultra-nationalist weekly Gazeta Polska.

"Court for Tusk, that is not enough... The death penalty is needed," she said Saturday at a rally organised by the newspaper in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw.Six years on, the aircraft wreckage and the black boxes remain in Russia, as Moscow refuses to return them to Poland before its own judicial investigation is complete.