Who covered up swapping of the Smolensk victims’ bodies?
SCND: April 7, 2016
The weekly "Gazeta Polska" reveals startling new details about the burial of President in Exile Ryszard Kaczorowski.
"Gazeta Polska” established that already five months after the crash of the Tu154M in Smolensk, Russia, Polish Prime Minister at that time - Donald Tusk – received information from Russia that in the coffin of former President of Poland in Exile Mr. Ryszard Kaczorowski another person’s body was placed.
The information about mistaken placement of the bodies in the coffins was also received by members of Miller’s Commission and the Military Prosecutor Office. Nevertheless, this information was kept secret and not even conveyed to the relatives of President Kaczorowski, while the exhumation procedure was deliberately blocked.
- It's a scandal, I'm disgusted ... The family of President Kaczorowski learned about the problems with the identification of the bodies only in the autumn of 2012, just a few days before the exhumation. Previously, no one even mentioned that there was a possibility that bodies have been placed in wrong coffins - said Gniewomir Rokosz-Kuczynski, President of the European Youth Centre and the Development of Local Democracy - an NGO cooperating with the London-based office of Polish President Ryszard Kaczorowski.
- If the Chief Military Prosecutor knew about the misidentification already in September 2010 and for the next two years had not taken any action to resolve this issue, such inaction can be described as violation of Prosecutor’s duties. The same rule applies to government representatives. I do not see any justification for the failure to inform the family of President Kaczorowski about a possible swap of bodies - says prof. Peter Kruszyński, a legal expert from the University of Warsaw.
The most important people in the Polish Government received this information already on September 24, 2010, which should be a turning point in the investigation of the Smolensk crash. Jerzy Bahr, Polish Ambassador in Moscow informed all Polish authorities in his official letter that the body found in the coffin of Polish President in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski belongs to someone else. This information - he stated - was reliable.
As established by "Gazeta Polska," Bahr learned about misidentification of the bodies from Peter Litwiszki, then Head of the Department of International Legal Cooperation of the Investigative Committee at the Office of Russian Prosecutor General. It was the Russian prosecutor, currently a spokesman for the Investigative Committee, who informed Bahr that "DNA testing confirmed that the remains which were placed in the coffin of President Kaczorowski actually belong to another person." Litwiszko also added that "several other DNA samples also confirm that the bodies placed in particular coffins do not belong to those victims which were identified by the victims' families."
The Russian prosecutor further explained that families might have not properly identified the bodies, "under pressure of time and emotion." He added, however, that the Russians could have also misplaced DNA samples due to “strong pressure from the Polish government to return corpses.”
Why did the Kremlin decide to convey to the Polish side the message, which could damage the credibility of Moscow? According to the findings of "Gazeta Polska", Bahr said that Litwiszko chose to do so, because Russia "expected a big scandal in connection with the exhumation of the bodies of the victims."
The Polish government however decided to hide this fact to avoid the scandal. They have not only hid the information about bodies swap from the public but what was particularly heinous – did not inform the family of President Kaczorowski about it. For a long time, they had been blocking exhumations requested by the families of the Smolensk victims who suspected misidentifications.
Ambassador Bahr informed Prime Minister Tusk back on September 24, 2010 that, according to Moscow "with respect to several bodies, the exhumation and re-testing of DNA will be necessary." In other words, the Russians conveyed to the Polish ambassador to consider the possibility of exhumation in the face of the scandal, although initially they had forbidden the opening of coffins. But Tusk's government was so subservient to Moscow and so zealous in covering-up the problem that instead of ordering exhumation for two years he had been trying to hide this problem.
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Already during the first night of the crash, the Russians were removing the most important pieces of evidence from the crash site, that is, the remains of the Polish President’s Tupolev, TU-154M. Parts of the aircraft were transported away without any prior planning, and some of them were purposefully destroyed. Read more here
"Russian Image Management"
The trip to Smolensk was expected to highlight Russia finally admitting culpability in the massacre, after long having blamed it on the Germans, an atrocity they had tried to conceal for over 70 years.
As for the reception committee, it had different ideas. Putin wasn’t looking forward to such an occasion. Into this poisonous reception brew was President Kaczynski’s well-known public criticism of Moscow and Putin, a habit that has ended the lives of others within Russia – and abroad. A few discouraging Russian requirements – that Kaczynski could not attend in any official capacity – did not halt the Poles. Kaczynski would go anyway on non-official, “personal” business. To Russians, such a distinction would be meaningless, not lessening the possible international excoriation of such an event. A problem ripe for a modern, Russian solution: a tragic, ‘natural’ accident.
World-renowned forensic pathologist goes on the record: "I have been doing autopsies for 50 years, and I've investigated more than fifteen, twenty airplane crashes […] I've been in countries all over the world where families think that the government is hiding something. Whether it is Zimbabwe or Israel, or Philippines, the government may not like an outside person checking to make sure they got it right. [But,] they never interfered with that. The family, the next of kin, always has the right to do what the wishes of the family are. In the 21st century, the body of the dead person no longer belongs to the state. It belongs to the family. So, it is unusual - something that I have never experienced before - where the government [of Poland] has not permitted the famil[ies]" to conduct independent forensic examinations of their loved ones' remains [...] I've never heard of a body coming back to a country and the family being unable to open up a casket. I've never heard of the family not being able to get an autopsy… Read more here
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