Poland denies explosive traces on crashed presidential jet

Polish prosecutors denied Tuesday that any traces of explosives had been found on the wreck of a presidential jet which crashed inRussia in 2010, killing then president Lech Kaczynski and 95 other people.

"It's not true that traces of TNT or nitroglycerine were confirmed either inside or on the exterior of the wreckage," Warsaw military prosecutor Colonel Ireneusz Szelag told journalists.

"Only laboratory tests on hundreds of samples collected from the wreckage will be able to unequivocally confirm or rule out the presence of explosive materials or their traces," he said, noting that "pesticides or cosmetics display characteristics of explosives".

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Leading daily Rzeczpospolita had reported Tuesday that traces of both explosives had been discovered on 30 seats and the area linking the fuselage with the wing, saying that tests had recently been carried out by Polish prosecutors and experts.

Szelag confirmed that such tests had taken place in September and earlier this month on the debris of the ill-fated Russian-made Tupolev 154 jet which went down in thick fog in Smolensk in western Russia in April 2010.

Testing by Polish and Russian investigators immediately following the crash had ruled out explosives.

"We must wait for prosecutors to draw their conclusions and establish the source of the substance before taking any measures," government spokesman Pawel Gras told public broadcaster TVP.

A July 2011 Polish report blamed errors by the ill-trained crew for the crash. It admitted most of the blame for the disaster -- in which all 96 people on board the plane died -- lay with Poland, but also faulted Russia.

It had ruled out "extremist versions" of events, including sabotage and pressure from third parties on the crew to land despite the bad weather.

The Russian investigation concluded that there was "psychological pressure" on the crew to land in dangerous weather conditions, prompting Warsaw to criticise the report as incomplete and riddled with errors.

Poland's conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party -- led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the late president's twin brother -- has repeatedly accused Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centre-right government of failing to take Russia to task.

A PiS-run parliamentary commission that probed the crash blamed Russia, claiming it had forged the testimony of Smolensk's air traffic controllers, who it alleged had misled the pilots.

Conspiracy theories on the causes behind the accident still abound in Poland, often fed by Kaczynski's claim the disaster was an assassination.

The doomed presidential delegation had been bound for a memorial ceremony in Katyn, near Smolensk, for thousands of Polish army officers slain by Soviet secret police in 1940, a massacre denied by the Kremlin until 1990.

© 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Oct 30, 2012