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New Polish Government Revives Debate About 2010 Plane Crash

  • Associated Press

FILE - The wreckage of the Polish Tupolev Tu-154M presidential aircraft that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others is seen at the airport in Smolensk, Oct. 1, 2010.

FILE - The wreckage of the Polish Tupolev Tu-154M presidential aircraft that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others is seen at the airport in Smolensk, Oct. 1, 2010.

Poland's new conservative ruling party has shut down government websites that carried the findings of an investigation into the 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski, reopening debate over a disaster overshadowed by conspiracy theories.

Law and Justice, the conservative party that took power last week, is led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the president who died in the plane crash near Smolensk, Russia. Kaczynski and other party leaders have long disputed the findings of investigators who declared the disaster an accident.

The disaster was the worst tragedy to strike Poland since World War II and carried a huge emotional charge for having occurred in Russia, a historic foe. Kaczynski and other top state officials were traveling to honor Poles murdered by the Soviet secret police during the war.

Kaczynski and his allies have suggested possible foul play by Russia and accused European Council President Donald Tusk — who was the Polish prime minister at the time of the crash — of negligence connected to the disaster.

A government spokeswoman, Elzbieta Witek, said Wednesday that she feels Tusk should face a top court, the State Tribunal, over his actions, but then insisted it was only her private view.

Earlier in the week, the government shut down two websites, set up by state authorities when Tusk was still prime minister, which car information about the official state findings into the crash.

"The website has been closed and will simply remain closed," Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Tuesday after a reporter asked about one of the sites that went offline.

Members of the new government believe that Tusk, who was prime minister from 2007-2014, didn't put enough emphasis on the security for President Lech Kaczynski. They also blame him for not insisting on an international investigation into the April 2010 crash, which killed 96 people, and for failing to ensure the return of the plane's wreckage.

Poland and Russia carried out separate investigations, both of which found that the plane crash in fog near Smolensk, Russia, was an accident. Both reports cited mistakes by pilots, while the Polish investigation also pointed to mistakes by Russian air traffic controllers.

The wreckage of the plane remains in Russia, with Russia refusing calls by Poland to return it. Moscow says it is still analyzing the wreckage, but the refusal to hand it over has infuriated many in Poland and fueled suspicions that Russia is trying to hide something.

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