WARSAW, April 3 Polish prosecutors said on
Monday they would press charges against two Russian air traffic
controllers of deliberately causing a 2010 plane crash that
killed Poland's president and 95 other people.
The crash near Smolensk in western Russia killed the Polish
President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, as well as the central
bank chief, top army brass and several lawmakers.
An inquiry by the previous centrist government returned a
verdict of pilot error, but the ruling Law and Justice (PiS)
party led by Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw, has said the
crash may have been caused by an explosion on board.
The prosecutors said on Monday that, among other things, a
new analysis of recordings of conversations between the pilots
and Russian controllers justified pressing the charges.
"An analysis of the evidence ... has allowed prosecutors to
formulate new charges against air traffic controllers, citizens
of the Russian Federation," Polish Deputy Prosecutor General
Marek Pasionek told a news conference.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said circumstances of the
tragedy have already been thoroughly studied.
"And it is certainly not possible to agree with such
conclusions," he said on a daily conference call with reporters,
referring to accusations made by the Polish prosecutors.
Russia has so far refused to return the wreckage of the jet
to Poland, a member of NATO and the European Union, citing its
own continuing investigation.
The accusations of the Polish prosecutors, whom the PiS
brought under direct government control, are likely to worsen
relations with Russia - already strained over the conflict in
Ukraine - and increase tensions within Polish society.
The crash was the worst such disaster in Poland since World
War Two and left society deeply divided over its causes.
The Polish prosecutors also said on Monday that the
re-opening of the victims' coffins, which had been sealed in
Russia, has so far revealed that in two cases remains were in
the wrong coffins and in five coffins there were fragments of
The prosecutors also said they would co-operate with foreign
laboratories to check whether there were traces of explosives on
the remains of victims.
The crash took place as pilots attempted to land a
Soviet-made TU-154 in heavy fog at a rarely used airport near
Smolensk, western Russia, to take part in commemorations of
22,000 Polish officers executed there by Soviet secret police in
(Reporting by Marcin Goettig in WARSAW, additional reporting by
Andrey Ostroukh in MOSCOW; Editing by Stephen Powell)