Poland Exhumes Remains of Smolensk Plane Crash Casualties

November 12, 2012, Monday // 03:16
Bulgaria: Poland Exhumes Remains of Smolensk Plane Crash Casualties
People mark the second anniversary of the tragedy in Smolensk, in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 10 April 2012. EPA/BGNES

The Polish military prosecutor has exhumed the remains of two of the victims of the 2010 Smolensk air crash disaster, in which the Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed, on suspicion that there may have been a mix-up over the bodies.

"Concerns that the bodies may have been exchanged arose after studying documents produced by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, as well as due to opinions of Polish experts" Military Prosecutor Captain Andrzej Wicharski told the Polish Press Agency, cited by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, suggesting that the mistakes stemmed from the mis-identification of the bodies by the Russian side.

Those involved have not officially been named, but Polish media have reported them as being two priests, one of whom was buried in Warsaw's Temple of Divine Providence, and the other in a graveyard in the capital's Pyra district. The remains will be sent for analysis by medical and legal experts.

The latest exhumations are the third this year involving those killed in the accident that shocked the world in the spring of 2010.

In the fall, Polish investigators twice carried out exhumations to confirm the identities of four bodies including the last Polish president in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski.

The results of the analysis showed the bodies had been buried in the wrong graves. In all four cases the mistakes occurred due to misidentification of the dead by their relatives and friends

Another three bodies were later exhumed in 2011 at the request of relatives, but were subsequently confirmed as being correctly identified.

The misidentification of the bodies is the latest in a series of scandals and intrigue around the crash. Russia and Poland have repeatedly disagreed on the precise causes of the incident, with Poland claiming Russian air traffic controllers were partly to blame, while Russia said the fault lay purely with the crew's failure to fly a correct instrument approach.

The editor-in-chief of Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita resigned earlier this month after publishing an article on October 30 claiming explosives were found at the scene of the plane crash.

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