Smolensk jet crash: Polish prosecutors deny explosives claim

A satellite image shows the site, lower right, of the Tu-154 plane crash outside Smolensk, 10 April 2010
Image caption This satellite image shows the crash site, lower right

Prosecutors in Poland have denied explosive traces were found on the jet which crashed two years ago, killing President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Colonel Ireneusz Szelag of the military prosecutor's office said no traces of TNT or nitroglycerine had been found on the plane, which crashed in Russia.

He was responding to a report in the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper.

Polish right-wingers have accused the government of ignoring evidence of outside involvement in the disaster.

Russian investigators who conducted the inquiry into the crash blamed the Polish crew of the Tu-154 government airliner for trying to land in heavy fog at the airport in Smolensk.

Polish counterparts said the controllers at the airport in Smolensk should not have allowed the plane to attempt an approach.

The loss of the plane, which had been carrying top Polish officials to a commemoration of the Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyn during World War II, traumatised Poland.

One of the abiding images of the tragedy was the then Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, solemnly embracing his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, when he visited the crash site.

Resignation call

Last month, Polish investigators travelled to Smolensk to examine the wreckage of the plane.

According to Rzeczpospolita, they found traces of TNT and nitroglycerine on 30 seats and in the middle section of the plane. "There was so much of the chemicals that one of the devices went off the scale," the newspaper said in an article published in Monday.

In response, Polish opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Lech, called for Mr Tusk to resign.

However, Col Szelag told a news conference later on Tuesday: "It is not true that investigators found traces of TNT or nitroglycerine.

"Evidence and opinions collected so far have in no way provided support to the belief that the crash was a result of actions by third parties, that is to say an assassination."

He also pointed out that equipment used to detect TNT could react in a similar way to soil, perfume or everyday objects.

Moscow and Warsaw came under criticism over their handling of the Smolensk investigation after Polish prosecutors admitted last month that families of two of the victims had received and buried the wrong remains.

The military said on Tuesday that two more bodies had been misidentified.

The remains of one of the two victims were those of the last Polish president-in-exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, who had been buried in the grave of another, unidentified victim in a Warsaw cemetery.

It had been thought that Mr Kaczorowski's remains were buried in the city's Temple of Divine Providence, but DNA tests have confirmed an error was made.

The exhumation of victims of the Smolensk crash, with prosecutors saying there may be more to come, has caused the Polish government considerable embarrassment and their families' renewed anguish, the BBC's Adam Easton reports from Warsaw.

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