Court issues arrest warrant against air controller over Smolensk crash
A Warsaw court has issued an arrest warrant against a Russian air traffic controller who was on duty at the time when the Polish presidential plane crashed in Smolensk on April 10, 2010.
The Polish National Prosecutor's Office, on September 16, 2020, filed for the temporary arrest of three air controllers, Wiktor R., Nikolai K. and Pawel P. (surnames withheld under Polish law) over the Smolensk disaster.
The move was the first step needed for the issuance of an international arrest warrant, after which prosecutors can work towards the controllers' detention.
"On May 17, 2022, the Mokotow District Court in Warsaw granted the prosecutor's office request and issued an arrest warrant against Wiktor R. …," the press spokesperson of the National Prosecutor's Office Łukasz Łapczynski told PAP on Thursday.
In May 2021, the court did not grant the prosecutors' request regarding Pawel P. In Tuesday’s ruling the court rejected the request for an arrest warrant against Nikolai K.
"The latter decision is considered incorrect by the prosecutor's office and will be immediately appealed," Łapczyński said.
An investigation against the Russian air traffic controllers has been in progress since March 2015, when they were charged with manslaughter over the air crash, resulting in the death of 96 people.
After analysing voice recordings between the plane and the control tower, in April 2017, the prosecutors decided to change the charges against the three men to deliberately causing an air traffic accident on the grounds that when they gave permission to descend and approach landing, they knew the action could lead to tragedy but went ahead anyway,
"However, the charges have never been announced because of the Russian Federation's attitude," Łapczynski said. Despite multiple appeals to the Russian authorities for help in interrogating and charging suspects, no assistance has been forthcoming from Moscow.
On April 10, 2010, President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and 94 others were killed when their aircraft crashed as it came in to land at a military airfield near Smolensk, Russia.