The 2010 Katyń Families Association

"THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT TNT" is the title of wSieci weekly in Poland. Please find the translation of the article on the real story of explosives detection and the cover-up that followed. Translated by:

Hidden Hexogen (RDX)

Hundreds of samples taken from the Polish TU-154M wreckage indicated high probability of containing explosive content, including Hexogen, Penthrite (PETN) and TNT. It will be necessary to re-run laboratory tests, as these ordered by the Prosecutors’ Office were carried out in such a fashion as to detect nothing. We are disclosing shocking details of the opinion of eminent chemists who revealed egregious mistakes made by the Polish government’s experts.

A report from the analysis prepared by the Polish Police Central Forensic Laboratory (abbr. CLKP) for the Military Prosecutor's Office was provided to two eminent scientists who meticulously analyzed the available data presented in the report and prepared their own opinion on behalf of the families of the victims of the April 10, 2010 air crash.

The results of findings presented by professor Krystyna Kamieńska-Trela, Ph.D., and professor Sławomir Szymański, Ph.D., leave us in disbelief. One-by-one, the scientists pointed out to instances of negligence and gross errors (or, perhaps mistakes), in the methodology used to test the samples taken in Smolensk. The scientists have no doubt - the official conclusions offered by the government’s experts fail even the most rudimentary scientific benchmarks.

Officially, the subject of explosive substances detection at the crash site has been closed. However, the analysis drawn up by professors on their own initiative, necessitates that this subject be reopen. Otherwise, government prosecutors will have not an iota of credibility left. The scientists clearly indicate that the CLKP report cannot, with any certainty, provide conclusive evidence on the presence or absence of traces of explosives and their by-products at the crash-site.

Blind Experts’ Analysis

The analysis of the evidence samples taken in Smolensk was assigned to the CLKP. Each of the 732 samples was tested by four chromatographic methods: GC / TEA, GC / ECD, GC / MS and HPLC / DAD. It was assumed - in a way incomprehensible to the independent chemists - that the presence of explosives would be confirmed only in case of detection of their presence through each of the four adopted methods. So, if three were positive, and one negative, it was arbitrarily assumed that the sample does not contain traces of explosive substances. - This is like searching for an alibi, as no one uses such methods. Was it to dodge the conclusion that unfortunately something is not right with these samples? - asks Professor Szymański.

Let us begin with the analysis of the first of these four methods, as it concerns the most bizarre inconsistency it resulted in. TEA detector (Thermal Energy Analyzer) is most sensitive to detect chemical compounds that were sought and has the highest selectivity. Above all, it only reacts to the presence of compounds containing nitrogen, which is present in most explosives.

Therefore, it is impossible to explain how this particular device - that was used in testing of the investigated material - was able to detect in about 100 samples more than 350 instances of the occurrence of substances which by the CLKP experts were interpreted as being Phthalates, Hydrocarbons, Terpenes or Esters of Phosphoric Acid. None of these substances contain nitrogen!

In order to have not 100%, but 200% certainty that the findings presented by the prosecutor’s office are phony, the researchers conducted a simple experiment. They contacted the manufacturer of the detector (the very same type used by the CLKP). They requested that this manufacturer suggests a suitable TEA (Thermal Energy Analyzer) device that would allow the determination of the presence of these types of substances; as these were alleged to have been detected by the CLKP with the use of this very device. The US manufacturer of this device responded that it is  unable to help. Their detectors are not designed for that purpose, and there is not a chance that their equipment can detect them. Therefore, either the American manufacturer doesn’t know what it makes and what it sales, or the Polish experts presented false test results.

What then, could the TEA detector show? In most cases the signals were characteristic of Hexogen (RDX), one of the most powerful explosives present in the popular mixture of C4, among others. According to prof. Kamieńska-Trela and prof. Szymanski, the claim by the CLKP experts that the signal compatible with that of RDX observed in the chromatograms obtained by GC / TEA comes from Diisobutyl Phthalate is most discrediting in the light of the most basic knowledge of the operation of the TEA detector.

Similar conclusions can be derived by analyzing chromatograms made during the ECD (Electron Capture Detector) detections - up to 150 samples showed signals consistent with the pattern of RDX. What did the CLKP experts do with these many repeated and confirmed detections you ask? They ignored all of them.

This coincidence is especially important when you consider where the above-mentioned samples came from. Extraordinarily frequent readings of RDX concerned swabs taken from the seats covers of TU-154M; these seat covers were found in a shed near the crash site. This shed offered favorable climatic conditions to preserve the traces of explosives for months after the tragedy - until the Russians allowed Polish experts to conduct testing on Siewiernyi aerodrome. Among other compounds PETN and TNT were also detected.

Thus - scientists believe - on the basis of the result of the analysis one can conclude that there is a high probability that explosives were present on-board of TU-154M aircraft.

Elementary Mistakes
Another issue is the care (or, to be more precise, the lack of care) with which the chemical analysis was carried out. Chemists with whom we spoke state unequivocally that there has been a distinct violation of all known procedural standards, and that even the most elementary rules were ignored in carrying out chromatographic measurements.

Gas chromatography involves "pushing through" the sample by the so-called column - a tube with a length of 10-15 meters wound in a spiral and filled with a porous material - at the end of which the detector is located. The various compounds move at different times, so that the detector is able to identify content of analyzed sample. But, in order for this analysis to be credible, one must ensure that it adheres to a strict "hygiene". The measurement itself takes about 12 minutes, and after that the column must be “reconditioned” - or "washed" with the gas, stabilized and cooled. This process takes over 60 minutes. The CLKP technicians ignored these requirements, and in most cases shortened that time by a factor of two. This means that further experiments were undertaken in conditions that were far from being optimal. What kind of results did these experiments produce then? Hundreds of chromatograms (plots curves of the so-called "peaks", i.e. signals registering specific constituent substances) appear to the scientists as odd; the curves obtained for standard reference mixtures of explosives (theoretically the same in all measurements) are significantly different from each other. According to the experts, this carelessness discredits CLKP analysis as being entirely untrustworthy.

Chromatography is based on the comparison - under identical conditions - of standard sample to the sought substance. Investigators were looking for traces of 14 explosives substances (or the remains of their by-products). - Therefore, they should have been using exactly the same reference substance in reference to each sample, the same set of reference compounds - said prof. Kamieńska-Trela. And she wonders - They didn’t do that. There was a total chaos as it relates to each test method and everything in between. In each analytic technique a different set of compounds was used!

To a skilled expert these errors are visible "at a glance"; like in the case of partial analysis appearing on the pages of prosecution documentation marked as exhibit “4-287”.

We can summarize that according to the accepted method of compliance of all four methods, it is childishly easy to exclude the presence of explosive substances. But is it credible? - You cannot equivalently assemble four such methods that differ so much in their sensitivity - said prof. Kamieńska-Trela.

What’s next?

Both Prof. Kamieńska-Trela and prof. Szymanski are scientists of an impeachable experience in the identification of organic compounds, such as explosives. They are both very familiar with the equipment and methods. They have behind them decades of experience in carrying out chemical laboratory analysis. They judged scientific papers, published numerous scientific works; including professional writings concerning molecular spectroscopy and identification of nitro compounds that were published internationally. They told us precisely what conclusions they reached, and what they thought about the work of the CLKP experts and inaccuracies they discovered through arduous analysis of 4,000 pages of official reports. The scientists took their time. They looked at each and every one of several thousand charts. They have no doubt that the evidence gathered by the government prosecutors does not negate the presence of the traces of explosives at the crash site.

We also spoke with other professionals in the field of chemistry who have been involved in chromatography and who work in various governmental scientific institutions in Poland. They want to remain anonymous. We presented, in detail, the objections reported by these two professors. They were shocked. - The CLKP technicians must be either incompetent novices, or simply, liars - we heard. - They had the evidence right in front of them, but chose not to notice it, and had to assume right away that they will not detect explosives. After all, a laboratory can employ an ordinary technician who doesn’t need extraordinary skills. All he has to do is to use clearly prescribed methods that have not changed for decades. This is not a sacred knowledge. This is a primer!

If military prosecutors are not convinced by the analysis carried out by professors of chemistry and they want to defend CLKP’s findings, then the latter should have no issue with disclosing all the material provided by the CLKP experts. This data is in no way sensitive, should be public, and it will allow for the evaluation of the work of the mentioned experts against the standards applicable in every chemical laboratory in the world. It seems that this will not be necessary, however, and the investigators will have no other choice but to seek other experts, perhaps a foreign scientific unit.

Attorney Piotr Pszczółkowski representing the family of 22 victims of the crash has been demanding exactly that for months. In a renewed request to the military prosecutor's office, he also requested that the two professors be deposed. He also petitions for a re-hearing of any police experts who prepared inaccurate - to put it mildly - analysis and for the opportunity to allow prof. Kamieńska-Trela and prof. Szymanski to take part in further investigation. The opinion of two scientists was joined to the application.

Will the prosecutors accede? If they want to be taken seriously - they have no choice. You can of course have doubts about whether they will be guided by this principle. So far, they had no objection to allow misinterpretations and had no qualms in squashing the evidence suggesting the presence of explosives at the crash site of the Polish government plane.

How the public was misled about the explosives

It is worth for us to retrace the entire process of "disarming" the case of explosive substances at the crash site. It all started with the publication of Cezary Gmyz in "Rzeczpospolita" on October 30, 2012, and information that the detectors, which were used by experts in Smolensk (in late September and October) showed traces of TNT and nitroglycerine. As it turned out, the journalist was also reporting about the indication of Hexogen. The storm broke. The prosecution denied the publication, and ultimately, the editor-in-chief of "Rzeczpospolita," Cezary Gmyz and two other journalists lost their jobs. The entire editorial staff of one of Poland’s most popular weeklies, "Uważam Rze", was also silenced.

The first sample from the crash site arrived in Poland on Dec. 5, 2012. Prosecutor’s spokesman, Colonel Ireneusz Szeląg announced that the whole truth would be known within half a year. On April 10, 2013, Attorney Piotr Pszczółkowski stated in the Parliament that the analysis has not even begun. The prosecution responded with a statement, which includes the following phrase: "the process of analysis of the samples is on-going." However, we were able to ascertain that the analysis of these samples began in fact, much later ... Military Prosecutor's Office therefore, didn’t tell the truth.

On June 27, 2013, the government investigators organized an all-out “press conference” that was full of ambiguities and unanswered questions. It trumpeted to the world that the samples were analyzed and that no traces of explosives were found. However, they also mentioned that they did not rely on complete and comprehensive test results. They were still waiting for the examination of samples taken from the “armoured” birch tree and from the bodies of the exhumed victims.

Despite all this, Prime Minister Donald Tusk made a triumphal announcement that: "Today marks the end of the TNT brawl. An adventure, which gave many politicians an excuse to make the most serious accusations, unequivocally and once for all ends with the prosecutor's office communiqué"- these very words summed up the prosecutor’s conference, which Mr. Tusk didn’t even watch because at that time he participated in the EU summit in Brussels. Of course, there was nothing unequivocal about it. As we found out the next day, the investigators did not have even a single important package for testing - samples of seats from Tupolev. Attorney General Andrzej Seremet revealed this information in an interview.

An official Polish delegation to collect evidence samples for testing from Russia took place in late July and August. After government experts returned, attorney Pszczółkowski filed an application to allow him to participate as an observer in the on-going laboratory examination. After consulting with CLKP, the Prosecutor's Office refused, raising the possibility of contamination of samples.

Attorney Pszczółkowski also asked for access to spectrometer readouts used in Smolensk during the July analysis of Tupolev’s seats. But these requests fell on deaf ears because supposedly ... these testing devices did not have internal memory. Are we to believe that during the second round of testing at Severnyi they were using different and inferior equipment or perhaps they didn’t want to relinquish control of the evidence they had at their disposal? Are these suspicions unjustified; considering how government investigators deal with families and their legal representatives? Neither the families nor their representatives were given access to the files, which were to be discussed at the press conferences with the media. The exception was, the April conference, before which attorney Pszczółkowski was able to see the chemical supplementary opinion exactly 15 minutes before the conference took place.

In December 2013, experts from CLKP provided government investigators with the chemical analysis report, but it was incomplete and was to be supplemented later. It did not state in what respect it was incomplete, or what was to be supplemented, but using its favorite expression, the government confirmed once again, that “there were no traces of explosives.” After yet another supplemental analysis was made, the investigators told the usual - “there were no explosives.” Today we already know that this statement is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Now, let us touch upon the issue of irregularities. Perhaps, we should simply call them forgeries? After all, this solemn “chemical analysis” - as the military prosecutors call it - raises a whole range of questions related to the performance of other types of analysis as well. We already know that some of these analyses have no value at all. What about others, then? For example, the case of the “analysis” conducted by the Military Institute of Chemistry and Radiometry made in 2010? They examined only a few items supplied by the Russians, but none of these contained even a single element from the aircraft?

The Internal Security Agency, which studied a private video made at the crash site immediately after the crash said that the sounds on this video resemble gunshots, but it is impossible to determine where these shots come from. Since phonoscopic reviews are incomplete, they will again have to be supplemented; or for unknown reason, cannot be completed (for example Yak-40 voice recorder data). Inconspicuously, the “zones of explosions” detected in a report from August 2010 made by the experts from the SmallGIS, became “Zones of Fire” in the Miller Committee’s report … only to become part of the official narrative.

These doubts are, of course, of lesser caliber than those concerning the shameful falsehoods about the key chemical expertise. Today we already know it. What about other mistakes and manipulations that remain hidden from the public opinion? Why do we have to rely on the determination and dedication of private individuals who are civilians - who risk their careers to pursue the just cause - the cause of finding the truth about the Smolensk crash by publicizing all these governmental failures and lies?

Why then such dedication, hunger for truth, courage, and steadfastness is not shared by both the Polish Military Prosecutor’s Office and its experts charged with conducting the official Polish investigation of this crash?


Source: "W Sieci" weekly, article: "Cała Prawda o Trotylu" by Marek Pyza, June 16, 2014. Translated by

More information:

- On October 30, 2012, Rzeczpospolita daily ran its front page article suggesting that traces of TNT and nitro-glycerine had been discovered on the debris of the presidential plane that crashed in Smolensk.

- TNT after all: On the 5th December 2012, Military investigators admitted to Members of Parliament during a sitting of the Justice Committee that detectors traced TNT in the wreckage of the plane.

- More than TNT: In reference to an article published in the weekly newsmagazine “Do Rzeczy”, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office issued a statement admitting that in addition to TNT, devices used in Smolensk on the wreckage of the plane detected nitro compounds, octogen (HMX) and hexogen (RDX).
- Presence of TNT traces confirmed by relative: Personal belongings of victim confirm presence of TNT says family member after two independent U.S analysis.

- Military Prosecution does not rule out possibility of a terrorist attack in Smolensk: The Chief Military Prosecutor has stated that the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office has not ruled out the possibility of third party deliberate involvement in Smolensk - a case still being investigated by Polish prosecutors.
- Polish Military Intelligence was warned of a possible terrorist threat against one of the EU Member States' aircraft: Before the Tu154M departure to Smolensk, the Military Intelligence Service received notice in April 2010 of a possible abduction/hijacking threat to one of the EU Member States' aircraft.