Antoni Macierewicz and his team of experts, called up to investigate the April 2010 Smolensk catastrophe which killed President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others, has not received particularly good press lately.
Seventeen percent of Poles believe Mr Macierewicz's claims that the Smolensk catastrophe was not an accident
Courtesy of Antonimacierewicz.pl
His latest setback came recently when the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) withdrew its support for a conference which would discuss the issues surrounding the crash. “Under current conditions, we don’t see the possibility to conduct such a discussion,” said PAN president Michał Kleiber.
Mr Kleiber was likely referring to a series of blunders made by the experts in Mr Macierewicz’s parliamentary committee, which is attempting to explain how the catastrophe was not an accident but rather an assassination attempt orchestrated by the Polish – or Russian – government, (or both, depending on which version Mr Macierewicz currently subscribes to).
The current debacle started after leaked transcripts of the military prosecutors’ questioning of members of the parliamentary committee (which is headed by Mr Macierewicz) were published by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
In the disclosed testimonies, one member of the committee told the prosecution that his expertise in investigating plane crashes comes from constructing model airplanes in his childhood. Another one reportedly said he knew a lot about how aircraft were constructed because he had closely observed the wings of planes while on passenger flights.
A further setback came during a televised conference call two weeks ago. Mr Macierewicz spoke with various Polish scientists scattered across the globe via internet communicator Skype. The call was a technical disaster, with connectivity issues arising throughout the entire event. The biggest embarrassment occurred when the screen lit up with incoming calls from pranksters. One of the callers used the moniker “Vladimir Putin,” when ringing in. The joke instantly became an internet meme.
A few days later, one of the committee’s experts, Jacek Rońda, admitted that he flat-out lied on national TV about being in the possession of a Russian document that claimed the plane never descended below 100 meters, which supported his theory that there was an explosion on board.
“There was nothing in that document – it was a bluff,” Mr Rońda admitted in an interview with the right-wing Catholic nationalist television station TV Trwam. He explained that he lied because he did not want to weaken his case.
The “bluff” cost Mr Rońda a position in the parliamentary committee as well as a panel discussion over which he was supposed to preside last week. During the panel, Mr Macierewicz and his experts presented what they claimed to be “undeniable evidence, proving that the crash was not an accident.”
The evidence consisted of various experts comparing crushed aluminum cans to plane wreckage and showing similarities which allegedly proved the theory that there was an explosion on board the aircraft. Others claimed the birch tree that the plane was supposed to have hit, causing it to lose one of its wings, had actually been cut down days before the crash. They also maintained that the flight recordings were manipulated.
The 17 percent
Despite these seemingly nonsensical claims, according to a recent study on Polish society, 17 percent of Poles still believe that the Smolensk catastrophe was not an accident. This proportion of Poles does not subscribe to the official version of the events presented by the Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents, Poland’s aircraft-accident investigation body.
The committee, having concluded its investigations, announced that “[the] immediate cause of the accident was the descent below the minimum descent altitude at an excessive rate of descent in weather conditions which prevented visual contact with the ground, as well as a delayed execution of the go-around procedure.”
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