After denying a Rzeczpospolita report in November that claimed Polish investigators had found traces of TNT and nitroglycerin on the wreckage of the TU-154 plane that crashed in Smolensk, Russia in 2010 killing President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others, Ireneusz Szeląg, the head of the Military Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, has now admitted that investigators had indeed found TNT on the plane wreckage.
Mr Szeląg made the statements before a judicial parliamentary commission on Wednesday saying the investigator's equipment had indicated traces of TNT were present on the TU-154 plane.
Mr Szeląg's remarks represent an about-turn from his November statement in which he said “I would like to calm the public. [We] have not found traces of TNT or any other explosive materials [on the plane wreckage].”
He went on to add that “chemical substances of a structure similar to high-energy materials like explosive materials have been found but they could be from many other sources,” but that only a “layman” would claim they were traces of TNT.
The Rzeczpospolita report caused a political uproar with Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of opposition party Law and Justice, and twin brother of the late Polish president, Lech, talking about the “murder of 96 people” being a “horrible crime” and calling on Prime Minister Donald Tusk to resign for having botched the investigation into the catastrophe.
As a result of the prosecutor's denial of the Rzeczpospolita report, that newspaper's editor-in-chief was fired along with the journalist who wrote the article and two other editors.
“The journalists involved in the publication did not have a basis for claiming that TNT and nitroglycerin had been found in the wreckage of the TU-154 plane. We consider the article to be inaccurate and poorly documented,” wrote Rzeczpospolita’s board in a statement after the editors and journalists had been let go.
The prosecutor's recent statements will doubtless fuel the fires of the conspiracy theories alleging that the Smolensk plane crash was in fact an assassination ordered by the Kremlin.
“Today, we know that traces of TNT were found on the wreckage of the TU-154 plane ... but from confirming traces of TNT to suggesting an assassination is a long way,” commented Justice Minister Jarosław Gowin.
From Warsaw Business Journal by Remi Adekoya
A day full of possibilities
BY Andrew Kureth
Will cabinet reshuffle save PO?
BY Remi Adekoya