Body of Poland's late president to be exhumed in crash probe


Warsaw (AFP)

The twin brother of Poland's former president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a 2010 plane crash in Russia, said Saturday he agrees with the decision to exhume the late leader's body as part of a new inquiry into the accident.

"I have agreed with the prosecutor's decision on the exhumations. The remains of my brother... will be among the first, if not the first, exhumation," said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who heads the ruling populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, in an interview with Onet news website.

The presidential plane went down in Smolensk in western Russia in April 2010, killing all 96 people on board, in an incident the PiS believes was nothing short of an assassination.

The party, which came to power a year ago, has denounced as "scandalous" an inquiry into the crash led by the previous liberal government -- headed at the time by Donald Tusk, who is now the EU president.

"The bodies, once they were brought back to Poland, were not examined. There was no autopsy," Kaczynski said of the victims, among them the military chief of staff, the head of the central bank and the president's wife.

The delegation was on its way to a ceremony in Russia's Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by Soviet secret police in 1940, in a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.

Kaczynski has made no secret of the fact he believes the crash was the result of foul play but Polish and Russian investigators have never found any evidence to support the claim.

The PiS-led government launched its own investigation after rejecting the conclusions of the previous inquiry which blamed bad weather conditions and errors by the Polish pilots and Russian air traffic controllers.

The national prosecutor decided in June to exhume the bodies of the victims to determine what caused their deaths and the accident -- a move opposed by some family members of the victims.

Only 10 percent of Poles approve of the decision to exhume the bodies, according to a opinion survey conducted by the Ipsos institute published on Saturday.

The late president is buried alongside his wife Maria in the crypt of the Wawel royal palace in Krakow where the kings of Poland and Jozef Pulsudski, the father of Polish independence in 1918, are also interred.