Smolensk plane crash victims buried in wrong graves
September 26, 2012
Zbigniew Rzepa, spokesman for the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office
A 2010 plane crash in Smolensk, western Russia that killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others is again stirring up emotions in Poland as Polish military prosecutors said on Tuesday that forensic data have confirmed that the bodies of two female victims the crash were switched, and buried in the wrong graves.
Polish investigators exhumed the two bodies last week to clarify inconsistencies in the reports provided by Russian experts, who made autopsies of the victims immediately after the crash, and subsequent doubts whether the correct remains were passed on to victims’ families in Poland.
Following the exhumation it turned out that in the grave of the legendary Solidarity activist Anna Walentynowicz there were remains of another crash victim who has not been identified.
The remains of the Smolensk victims were originally examined by Russian investigators in the presence of Polish officials in Moscow before being flown back to Poland in metal coffins. Reportedly, the coffins were incorrectly numbered before they were put on the plane.
Walentynowicz’s family said that the body which had been taken out of the grave had not been Walentynowicz's body, which had been identified in Moscow by them.
"The prosecutor's office is looking into the issue of exchanging the bodies and is investigating the evidence also from this angle," Colonel Zbigniew Rzepa, a spokesman for the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Walentynowicz was the fourth victim of the Smolensk crash to be exhumed. The previous three victims to be exhumed included two MPs from Kaczynski's former party - Law and Justice (PiS), Przemyslaw Gosiewski and Zbigniew Wassermann, and Janusz Kurtyka, the former head of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the state body in charge of prosecution of crimes against the Polish nation.
Commenting on the previous exhumations Polish PM Donald Tusk said that imperfections in the Russian autopsies were not surprising given the realities of the crash.
Poland's main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) led by Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw, has on many occasions criticized PM Tusk and his government for handling the Smolensk investigation.
Military prosecutors plan to exhume four additional bodies and representatives of families of other victims said they expected many more remains to be examined.