Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland forensics helping Polish probe President's air crash

By Staff Reporter

Forensic experts in Northern Ireland have been drafted in to help the Polish authorities solve a mysterious plane crash seven years ago that killed the country's President Lech Kaczynski.

All 96 people on board the aircraft, including Mr Kaczynski, his wife Maria and other members of a delegation from Warsaw travelling to Russia to commemorate the Katyn massacre, were killed on April 10, 2010.

The Tupolev Tu-154M plane crashed while approaching Smolensk Air Base. At the time pilot error and bad weather had been blamed for the disaster.

But a new inquiry has been launched after a member of the Polish Government said there may have been an explosion.

The BBC has reported that samples arrived at the forensic labs near Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, last month.

The National Prosecution Office in Warsaw said it had signed a contract with Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI) to "perform explosive trace analysis on samples preserved during the ongoing investigation into the crash of TU-154M No.101 aircraft".

"FSNI's work under this contract is purely scientific and routine" said the National Prosecution Office on its website.

"FSNI will not make any comment on the potential causes of the crash, nor offer an opinion or interpretation of the analysis results in such context."

The leading forensic adviser to the National Prosecution Office in Warsaw, Pavel Rybicki, travelled to Northern Ireland.

"What we would like to establish is if there are explosive residues on the samples taken from Poland by the prosecutors," Mr Rybicki told the BBC.

He added that forensic scientists in Northern Ireland had been chosen to help because of their recognised expertise in explosives analysis.

"We would like to confirm the presence of residues of explosive, or not, and all the results of the analysis will be taken into account in the further stage of the investigation," Mr Rybicki said.

The Department of Justice confirmed that the forensic service has been engaged by the Polish National Prosecution Office to conduct scientific work on their behalf.

Belfast Telegraph

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