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Ex-defence minister to head probe into Polish presidential plane crash

Antoni Macierewicz

Former Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz has been appointed the head of a commission investigating the fatal crash of the Polish president’s plane in 2010, the website has reported.

Macierewicz lost his job as defence minister in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week, just over halfway through the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government’s term in office.

Macierewicz, a powerful figure in the ruling PiS party, was replaced as defence minister by Mariusz Błaszczak, up to then the country’s interior minister.

The commission probing the crash of the Polish presidential plane on April 10, 2010, said on Wednesday that the jet’s left wing was destroyed as a result of an explosion on board.

The crash, near the western Russian city of Smolensk, killed then-Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others.

In April, the Polish commission said that the presidential plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as they neared the runway.

The commission was set up Law and Justice, which came to power in 2015. The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczyński.

PiS has long challenged an official report into the causes of the disaster issued by the previous Polish government, which cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.

A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.

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