Polish probe alleges 'tampering' in Russia air crash

2016-09-15 21:01
The coffin of Polish President Lech Kaczynski carried by Polish honour guards during a farewell ceremony at the Smolensk airport. (File, Alexei Nikolsky

The coffin of Polish President Lech Kaczynski carried by Polish honour guards during a farewell ceremony at the Smolensk airport. (File, Alexei Nikolsky (Alexei Nikolsky)

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Warsaw - Polish investigators, who have been re-examining what caused a 2010 air crash in Russia that killed then president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, alleged on Thursday that someone had tampered with the black boxes in the original probe.

The new investigation was launched by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which swept back to power in October after eight years in opposition and whose leader is the twin brother of the late president.

PiS politicians have long insisted the presidential jet crash was no accident, even though both Polish and Russian investigators found that pilot error, bad weather and poor air traffic control were to blame.

Most of the others who died when the plane came down in Smolensk, western Russia were senior Polish state officials, including its military chief of staff and central banker.

"Some of the elements were tampered with," commission of inquiry head Waclaw Berczynski told reporters on Thursday.

His colleague Kazimierz Nowaczyk alleged that three seconds had been cut from one of the black box recordings, while five seconds were deleted from the other.

The commission members outlined information they claimed showed that there had been bias in the original Polish investigation led by then interior minister Jerzy Miller.

They played a recording at the news conference on which they said Miller could be heard instructing someone to match the Polish report to the Russian one so that the public would not think "we are hiding something" and to "prevent myths from being formed".

Also at the press conference was Frank Taylor, a British aviation expert who took part in the investigation of the 1988 Pan-Am flight that was brought down by a bomb over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Pointing to weaknesses in the original Polish probe, he alleged that satellite photos showed that wreckage had been moved after the crash.

A 2015 Polish opinion poll found that 22% of respondents believed the crash was an assassination.

Read more on:    poland  |  russia  |  air crashes

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