Polish prosecutors: Russians 'deliberately' caused jet crash

By Allen Cone   |   April 3, 2017 at 11:53 AM
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April 3 (UPI) -- Poland's top prosecutor charged Monday there is "no doubt" that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately caused a jet carrying Poland's president and nearly 100 others to crash in 2010.

Poland's National Prosecutor Marek Kuczynski made the allegations to reporters in Warsaw one week before the seventh anniversary of the crash of the Polish Air Force jet at a rarely used airport near the city of Smolensk 225 miles southwest of Moscow.

On April 10, 2010, the Polish crew tried to land the Tupolev Tu-154 in heavy fog, and it clipped a tree approaching the runway and crashed. A total of 97 died, including top government and military officials and the president's wife.

"Previously gathered and new evidence has allowed prosecutors to press new charges against air traffic controllers, Russian citizens and a third person who was also in the control tower, for the crime of intentionally causing an air-travel disaster," Marek Pasionek, deputy head of the national prosecutor's office, said at the news conference.

Separate Polish and Russian investigations found that pilot error was mainly to blame, but Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said the crash was probably an "assassination."

Kuczynski said his findings revealed that two Russian air traffic controllers and a third person in the control tower willingly contributed to the crash. He said Poland wants to question the three Russians.

They were guilty of "deliberately causing a catastrophe," Kuczynski said.

Early investigations blamed the crew for failing to approach safely after no technical problems were found involving the plane.

In 2015, Poland opened a new investigation after the election of the Law and Justice party, which is led by Jarosław Kachzynski, the twin brother of the late president, Lech Kachzynski.

Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the new charges.

"The circumstances of this tragedy have been thoroughly studied, and we cannot agree with such conclusions," Peskov said.

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