Presidential plane crash investigator presents final report

Paweł Supernak/PAP

The 2010 Polish presidential plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, that killed 96 people including the president, was a result of "an act of unlawful interference", said Antoni Macierewicz, head of a special sub-committee investigating the cause of the air disaster.

On April 10, 2010, President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 others were killed when their aircraft crashed as it came in to land at a military airfield near Smolensk.

Two official investigations into the disaster concluded it was an accident, but Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin of the late president and leader of Law and Justice (PiS), the governing party, has always maintained his brother was assassinated.

The PiS government set up the special sub-committee to investigate the incident, and appointed Antoni Macierewicz, a close Kaczynski ally, to run it.

Macierewicz said his sub-committee had also annulled the original 2011 report from investigation into the crash issued by the Polish Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents, which said the main cause of the accident was pilot error in unfavourable weather conditions.

Presenting the final report on Monday, Macierewicz said the sub-committee "defined the cause of the aviation incident involving the Tu-154m aircraft... of April 10, 2010 over the Smolensk Severny Airport as an act of unlawful interference.”

"Simulations and reconstructions of explosions in the left wing and the wing centre section and reconstructions of the disintegration of particular parts of the plane as well as pyrotechnic experiments have played an important role in the work of the sub-commission," Macierewicz said.

Macierewicz also said the sub-committee had confirmed the presence of traces of explosives on various parts of the plane, including TNT and high-energy materials used in thermobaric weapons.

However, the sub-committee presented similar findings in a technical report in 2018.

Macierewicz also attacked Donald Tusk's centrist government, which was in power when the accident took place.

"Evidence was not only left out by the Donald Tusk government at the discretion of the Russian Federation, but it was also hidden, destroyed and falsified," Macierewicz said.

He said that Russia had never given Poland access to real evidence.

Macierewicz's sub-committee has been sharply criticised by the opposition and some family members of the victims. Over the six years of its operation, which included exhumations of the victims' bodies, the commission was marred by resignations of its experts, who often criticised the way the body was run.

The assassination claims, which Macierewicz has made on numerous occasions before, were refuted by Maciej Lasek, the head of the original Smolensk air disaster investigating body that concluded the crash was an accident.

Poles have been divided over whom to believe in the Smolensk disaster investigations and the issue still causes much controversy in society.