WARSAW, March 20 — A former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor has agreed to help Poland recover the wreckage of a 2010 Polish presidential jet crash from Russia, whose refusal to hand over the debris has stoked friction with Moscow and caused divisions at home.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the today edition of Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that he had agreed to a request by Warsaw to “take part in the process of recovering the wreckage of the Polish plane from Russia.”
The Argentinian-born Moreno-Ocampo confirmed in the interview that last week he signed an agreement with Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz.
“We agreed that I will participate as an expert advisor in the area of international law,” he told the newspaper.
President Lech Kaczynski — the twin brother of Poland’s current powerbroker Jaroslaw Kaczynski — was among the 96 mostly senior Polish statesmen who died in the crash in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10, 2010.
The Polish delegation was heading to a ceremony in Russia’s Katyn forest in memory of thousands of Polish army officers killed by Soviet secret police in 1940 — a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.
Warsaw has repeatedly asked Moscow to hand over the wreckage and black boxes, but each time Russia has said it will only do so when its own inquiry is finished.
Recovering the wreckage has symbolic value for Warsaw as it seeks evidence that could shed light on what caused the crash.
Poland’s previous liberal government blamed bad weather and errors by the Polish pilots and Russian air traffic controllers.
But Jaroslaw Kacynski’s current governing Law and Justice (PiS) party rejected those conclusions as a cover-up and launched its own investigation.
In November 2016, Polish justice officials began exhuming the remains of the victims to test for traces of explosives or combustion, as the PiS believes a fire may have started on board before the crash.
The PiS harnessed deep divisions among voters over the causes behind the crash as a key campaign issue to pave its way back to power in the October 2015 election.
Kaczynski has alleged that current EU President Donald Tusk, who served as Poland’s liberal prime minister at the time of the crash, is “morally responsible” for it. — AFP