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A court in Warsaw has ruled that the Prosecutor must reopen the case concerning irregularities in the organisation of flights to Smolensk. The court then found that the Warsaw prosecutors had prematurely closed the investigation into the organisation of flights to Smolensk, namely the Prime Minister's flight of 7 April 2010 and the President's flight of 10 April 2014.
This is a small – for now – victory for the families of the victims of the Smolensk disaster and their legal representatives. Let us hope that the work of investigators will not be halted by a bizarre decision as previously, when proceedings on the same issue were halted twice.
The Prosecutor was investigating aspects of failures to fulfil obligations and issues of abuse of power by officials from the President’s Chancellery, the Prime Minister's Chancellery, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of National Defence, and the Polish Embassy in Moscow in connection with the organisation and preparations for the 2010 flight to Smolensk.
The first time the investigation, which was being carried out by the Warsaw‑Praga District Prosecutor, was closed on 30 June 2012. What was shocking at the time was that the case was closed despite the fact that prosecutors had pointed to numerous irregularities, failures and shortcomings in the organisation of the flight by government officials, but that ultimately these were not deemed to be crimes. However, the court ordered that proceedings be reopened, pointing to the fact that the investigators had only taken into account the detriment to the public good, and not the private interests of the victims. Yet once again in September 2013, the Prosecutor decided to close the investigation. This decision has also been disputed. 21 families lodged complaints against this decision.
Let us note that the investigation was closed for the second time in September 2013. The reason was the ‘absence of elements of a criminal offence on the part of state officials’. However, in spite of this assertion, the investigators – in their several‑hundred‑page‑long reasoned opinion – noted a large number of irregularities on behalf of officials in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government Protection Bureau and others.
Judge Wojciech Łączewski pointed that the decision to reverse the closure of the case had been taken ex officio. He also gave a blunt assessment of the Procurator’s reasoned opinion – and above all of the fact that the Praga investigators had given up on analysing the evidence.
– The Prosecutor closed the investigation, but we do not know why, as he did not provide a justification for this decision – stated the judge.
The court overruled the Prosecutor's decision in its entirety and ordered the case to be reopened.
- The omissions on the part of the state officials are very serious. These mainly concern the failure to provide adequate security for the President’s visit, which directly exposed him to danger. The ineptitude and incompetence of state officials should be subject to legal sanctions – explained Bartosz Kownacki, legal representative to some of the Smolensk family victims – as quoted by wprost.pl.
Topics relating to the responsibility of the administrative institutions’ responsibility for the organisation of flights to Smolensk were excluded in spring 2011 from the main investigation into the disaster being carried out by the District Military Prosecutor in Warsaw.
Source: wpolityce.pl, niezalezna.pl, tvn24.pl