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International team to study exhumed Smolensk victims

A team of international experts will study the exhumed remains of victims of the 2010 Smolensk presidential plane crash, starting with those of President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria.

The bodies of the First Couple, who were among 96 people who died in the 2010 plane crash in western Russia, were the first to be exhumed as part of a new investigation into the causes of the crash.

The sarcophagi of the Kaczyńskis in the vault of the Wawel castle in Kraków, were opened on Monday night.

The operation was overseen by the late president’s twin brother Jarosław, now head of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. Also present were the couple’s daughter Maria, as well as deputy general prosecutor Marek Pasionek.

The remains were taken to the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

An autopsy and laboratory tests will be performed by a team of 14 international experts. It will include, among other people, three people from the Centre for Forensic Medicine in Lausanne-Geneva University (Switzerland), one from the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and two professors from Odense (Denmark).

The rest of the team comprises of experts from Kraków, Warsaw, Lublin in Poland.

“This team absolutely guarantees that research will be carried out professionally and objectively. It consists of people who are recognised for their scientific achievements and authority,” a person close to the investigation told the PAP news agency.

were buried at the Wawel castle in Kraków.

The State Prosecutor has said that a total of 10 exhumations will be performed this year. A total of 83 of the victims will be exhumed in a process that is expected to last until autumn-winter of 2017.

“I confirm, because there is absolutely no secret that exhumations will begin [in] Wawel with the exhumation of the President,” deputy General Prosecutor Marek Pasionek said last week.

The exhumations are part of an ongoing investigation by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party into the causes of the crash.

In a recent speech, PiS head Jarosław Kaczyński, said that Poland will not be “truly free” while the Smolensk disaster case remains open.

PiS politicians have challenged a report under Poland’s previous government which concluded the crash was an accident.

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