Smolensk tragedy committee chair hopes to present final report in April
The head of an investigative committee into the 2010 Smolensk air disaster, which claimed the lives of the Polish president and dozens of top political and military figures, said on Monday that he hoped the committee's final report would be ready for presentation in April.
Antoni Macierewicz went on to say the final report should be sent not only to the defence minister but also to the president, prime minister and families of the crash victims.
The Polish government's TU154M aircraft crashed as it approached Smolensk airport in western Russia, on April 10, 2010. The tragedy killed all 96 on board including then President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria.
An official report into the disaster attributed the cause of the crash to a number of factors such as the weather and pilot error as well as a collision with a birch tree.
But Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late president, and his political allies have maintained for years that an explosion downed the aircraft, although they have struggled to produce any hard evidence to substantiate their claims.
Once in government, Law and Justice, the party founded by the Kaczynski brothers, initiated an investigation headed by Macierewicz, a former defence minister and loyal Kaczynski ally.
On Saturday, a 40-minute documentary on the investigative committee's report was screened on Poland's Telewizja Republika and TVP 1 channels. The film cited the final report's findings that the crash was caused not by poor weather and human error but by two explosions which investigators say occurred in the left wing and fuselage of the Tupolev.
Speaking on public radio on Monday, Macierewicz said the research phase of the committee's work had been concluded. "We're finishing the editing work of formulating the text," he explained, adding that he hoped the report would be voted on by committee members sometime in April.
On the subject of the crash's cause, Macierewicz said that, "the matter has been researched multiple times, lied about intensively by the Russians, defenders of the Russian side, and the public has been misled."
He said the true cause of the tragedy was two explosions "at the end of the left wing and then in the centre-wing section."
"We have identified the centre of the explosion in the centre-wing section and the time of the explosion," he continued. "First, the horizontal stabilizer and a fragment of the vertical stabilizer were lost, then the left side of the centre wing was destroyed and the door was driven one metre into the ground. An analysis conducted by the committee together with our American collaborators, showed that in order to be driven a metre into the ground, the door must have flown at a speed 10 times greater than the plane was flying."
He added that explosive material found at the blast sites had been identified by Italian, British and American laboratories. As such, the committee chair asserted, the cause of the crash could not have been the plane striking a birch tree, explaining that the crash occurred 100 metres ahead of where the birch was growing. He described the birch-strike hypothesis as "one of the greatest falsehoods that have been carried out."
Macierewicz went on to say the sound recording from the ill-fated jet had been tampered with, which he claimed was "pointing to the falsehoods of the Russian side."