Russia refuses legal assistance in the Smolensk investigation
Published: May 12, 2018
At least nine times over the past two years, the Polish prosecutor's office has been seeking Russian assistance in the investigation of the Smolensk crash. Each time they met with either a refusal or silence - according to the deputy prosecutor general Marek Pasionek. The Russian investigators claim that meeting the demands of Polish prosecutors would be contrary to Russian law or international conventions. Deputy prosecutor general Marek Pasionek released a list of requests for legal assistance addressed to the Russian Federation in the investigation of the Smolensk crash of April 10, 2010.
Pasionek stated that the investigation team no. 1 of the National Prosecutor's Office sent to the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation "several applications for the execution of the indicated procedural steps and for production of documents." There were at least nine requests from the prosecutor's office since the beginning of 2016.
1. A request to present charges to specified individuals. The application was sent on March 27, 2017 and was returned on 27 July 2017, with the refusal to execute it. On April 3, 2017, Prosecutor Pasionek stated at a press conference that there were charges of deliberately causing an air traffic disaster for two Russian air traffic controllers and the third person present at the time of the in the Smolensk Severny air traffic control tower.
2. A request for a second inspection of the wreckage of the plane had remained unrealized by the Russian prosecutor's office for a year. On May 17, 2017, another application was submitted for re-examination of the wreckage and for all elements of the crashed airplane, including inventory, counting, photographing and assigning appropriate inventory numbers in the electronic system. On 26 July 2017, the Russians expressed no objections to the implementation of these activities, but stipulated that the date would be set later. From that time, the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation did not set a date. In connection with the above, on January 2, 2018 the Polish side sent a follow-up request"- reported Pasionek.
3. A request for a copy of the video record the wreckage of the plane made by the Russians. So far unrealized. "On November 10, 2017, an application was submitted for a digital copy of video recordings from the Russian inspection at the Smolensk airport. On April 3, 2018, the Russians requested clarification of the application, which was submitted on April 16, 2018," reports the deputy prosecutor general.
4. Application for returning the wreckage was left unanswered. "Another application for the return of the wreckage was sent on January 16, 2018. So far, no reply has been received" – Pasionek reported.
5. A request for production of documents and identification of witnesses was denied by the Russians. "On the other hand, on September 22, 2016, a request for sending specific documents and an indication of witnesses was sent in. The Russian party in September 2017 asked for clarification of the application, and then on January 15, 2018 refused to implement it" - writes the deputy prosecutor general.
6. A Refusal to interrogate a witness at the request of the Polish prosecutor's office. "On December 16, 2016, a request was made to interrogate a particular witness. The Russian side sent a refusal on July 28, 2017," Pasionek reports.
7. The next request for interrogation of a witness, which the Russians refused to implement, was sent on June 29, 2017. The refusal letter was sent by the Russians side on January 15, 2018.
8. The next request for access to documents was sent to the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation on September 18, 2017. The Russian party, "after being urged to implement it, responded on April 4, 2018 that it was under consideration."
9. Another request for interrogation of witnesses and production of documents was sent to Russia on July 7, 2017. "Until now, it has remained unanswered. On January 2, 2018, the Polish side sent a follow up reminder," Pasionek explained.
In refusing all requests of the Polish side for legal help Russia refers to the conventions and its law. Russians argue that the deputy prosecutor general's requests do not contain detailed information about the interrogation of which witnesses and the sending of which documents the Polish side requests. Refusing to carry out Polish investigators' requests, the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation refers to Article 2b of the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and to Part 4 of Article 457 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation. The referenced article of the Convention says that "legal aid may be refused: if the requested party considers that the execution of the request would undermine the sovereignty, security, public order or other fundamental interests of the state."
In addition, the provision of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, to which prosecutors refer to in refusing to implement the requests of the Polish prosecution, says that the request for legal assistance from a foreign state is returned without consideration if it is contrary to the laws of the Russian Federation or its enforcement may violate sovereignty or security of the state.
Click on the thumbnails below to view screen dumps from the detectors used to examine the wreckage and seats from the Polish president's plane crash in Smolensk. An "X" denotes the presence of the detected explosive substance and its type. The underlined Polish word "Probka" or "probka" in the screen dump 1 and 2, means "Sample"
Why did they all fly on the same plane?
Synopsis: January 12, 2013, Toronto, Canada. The wife of the late Deputy-Minister of Culture Tomasz Merta: "What I am about to tell you now, are suspicions - and not even my own - but, rather the [suspicions of the] individuals in the inner-circles of the [Polish] military... I heard a statement that was made - but, I am not taking any responsibility for how credible, or not credible it is. [I heard that] had the generals and journalists' not been re-assigned to different aircraft, it wouldn't have been the Tupolev [Tu-154M], but rather the Casa [transport aircraft] that would have been taken out.
Because the Generals were no longer onboard the Casa, there was no reason for it to get airborne. And for this reason it was the Yak[-40] that flew off to Smolensk. This Casa [transport aircraft] was never examined in any way. It was not subject to any examination. Aside from a single note in the deposition given to the military, no one was interested why this aircraft didn't fly [to Smolensk]. Perhaps, this is someones crazy phantasy, but perhaps it isn't.
Some [Polish] military personnel had suggested, that it [the Casa] had to stay behind at the Okecie military [tarmack], so that the explosives could be removed from it - because they were no longer needed [...] I am only repeating what I was told."
"Disarming" Explosives ...
It is worth for us to retrace the entire process of "disarming" the case of explosive substances at the crash site. It all started with the publication of Cezary Gmyz in "Rzeczpospolita" on October 30, 2012, and information that the detectors, which were used by experts in Smolensk (in late September and October) showed traces of TNT and nitroglycerine.
As it turned out, the journalist was also reporting about the indication of Hexogen. The storm broke. The prosecution denied the publication, and ultimately, the editor-in-chief of "Rzeczpospolita," Cezary Gmyz and two other journalists lost their jobs. The entire editorial staff of one of Poland’s most popular weeklies, "Uważam Rze", was also silenced.
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