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Poland to Probe Death of Wartime Leader


A Polish official says the remains of the country's World War II leader, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, will be exhumed in a probe to determine if the 1943 air crash that killed him was accidental or deliberate.

The head of the state-run Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates crimes of both the communist and Nazi eras, Janusz Kurtyka, said Sikorski's remains will be exhumed from a crypt in the southern city of Krakow on November 25.

In September, the institute opened a probe into Sikorski's death, saying there was reason to suspect a "criminal cause." The institute also said it was investigating a "communist crime," suggesting it suspected Sikorski was killed by Soviet agents.

Sikorski led the London-based Polish government-in-exile set up after Nazi German and Soviet troops invaded the country in 1939.

Sikorski died on July 4, 1943 when the British Royal Air Force plane in which he was traveling plunged into the sea, seconds after take-off from Gibraltar.

The crash came three months after Joseph Stalin broke diplomatic ties with the Polish government-in-exile following Sikorski's demand that the International Red Cross investigate the Katyn Forest Massacre.

In 1941, German troops discovered in the Katyn forest, near the Russian city of Smolensk, the graves of thousands of Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests. The victims were later proven to have been executed by Soviet forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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