Poland denies report of Smolensk aircraft explosives findings, but political fire strong
October 31, 2012
col. Ireniusz Szelag
Polish authorities moved quickly to play down reports of TNT and nitroglycerin in the wreckage of the presidential aircraft that went down in April 2010 as "absolutely unwarranted conclusions" on fractional and preliminary evidence, but not before the report drew hot commentary from across the political spectrum.
"No such substances have been confirmed," the chief of the military prosecutor's office in Warsaw, col. Ireniusz Szelag, told a news conference on Tuesday.
Comments follow publication in the daily Rzeczpospolita of reports that Polish investigators had found traces of TNT and nitroglycerin in the wreckage of the plane whose crash in Smolensk, Russia, killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski with a high-level entourage en route to a commemoration of the WWII Katyn massacre.
That report triggered a morning of hot political commentary. Major opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) leadership came out strongly Tuesday morning in the wake of Rzeczpospolita's report, calling on the government to step down.
"We demand the dismissal of the Donald Tusk government," PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, twin brother to the late President, said during a briefing.
"It cannot be the case that Poland is ruled by people who in such a case, which today can be defined as a horrible crime, have managed to deceive for over thirty months."
PM Donald Tusk stood up to the demands for the government's resignation, calling PiS's accusations "unacceptable" and "absurd".
The daily had written that the investigation team had returned to Poland with the data two weeks ago and that a report had already made its way to the Prime Minister.
Szelag confirmed that an investigative team had returned from the testing with numerous samples after on-site detectors had alerted the team to the presence of substances with similar structures to "high-energy" compounds which can appear in certain explosives.
Szelag said, however, that numerous non-explosive substances can trigger such alerts, false positives are "frequent" and the on-site detectors are not capable of identifying the compounds precisely. Poland now awaits lab results on collected samples, Szelag said.
The investigation into the April 2010 air crash has been a contentious political issue in Poland.
Both the Russian-led Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) investigation and a Polish inquiry known as the Miller Report, determined that pilots had descended too low in their approach given the poor weather conditions and struck trees ahead of the runway.
The core electorate of PiS has long been critical of the official investigation of the crash and has demanded further inquiry given what they believe are a number of inconsistencies in the investigation and its results. The most radical voices have claimed outright that the crash was no accident, but the result of an on-board explosion, purportedly ahead of the eventual crash.