Investigation disaster?

Artur Stelmasiak

The removal of the prosecutor supervising the investigation of the Smolensk plane crash can be another catastrophe. However, the worst thing is that some people may expect this disaster. The aim seems to be clearly defined: to remove the uncomfortable people from the investigation acts and cut off the public opinion from information, and the whole matter will die away. The first success of this puzzle is to take over the monopoly of investigation into the causes of the crash by Minister Jerzy Miller. Since the publication of the MAK report the state committee has not communicated anything to the public opinion. So the time is over when all news could be confronted with the Polish representative accredited to MAK Colonel Edmund Klich. Although his attitude evokes controversies he has showed us the real picture of the Polish-Russian friendship.
Now even the information that during the experiment conducted by the twin plane Tu-102 it was possible to make the plane go up over the airport without the ILS system remained without any comment. And if that fact is true all the key conclusions of the MAK report are absurd. The only error of the Polish pilot would have been that they had gone aboard that plane. If going round using the autopilot is possible we have only two possibilities: a damage of the plane or… an assassination. This investigation has many riddles. The committee directed by Miller confirms it indirectly. It postpones the publication of its report one month after another. ‘The stand formulated by the technical commission directed by Colonel Miroslaw Grochowski is inconvenient for Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his people,’ thinks Antoni Macierewicz, the head of the parliamentary investigation team on the causes of the crash. That’s why the government does its best to postpone the publication of the report. Recently, some have said that the report will be ready after the elections.

Provocation in the prosecutor’s office?

Another alarming phenomenon is the suspension of prosecutor Marek Pasionek, one of the two prosecutors supervising the Smolensk investigation. The main accusations of Pasionek were to be his talks to the Americans during which he wanted to gain additional evidence concerning the investigation. Besides, he was to contact the journalists. ‘He was a man who was really striving for the truth. All things point to the fact that our friends are in Moscow and our enemies are in Washington,’ Jaroslaw Kaczynski stated. Pasionek was removed from the investigation and his office was sealed. Disciplinary proceedings have been commenced against him and his immunity can be overruled. But the key to understand this confusion can be the figure of the main military prosecutor General Krzysztof Parulski. The Chairman of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) reminded us that his brother, late Lech Kaczynski, blocked the nomination of Parulski. He also showed that the Parulski’s career began in the dark times of the marshal law. ‘Then he opposed the nation unequivocally and supported foreign authorities,’ Kaczynski explained. Those who watched the work of the military prosecutor’s office have no doubts that for a long time Parulski opposed Pasionek who was a civil prosecutor supervising the Smolensk investigation. There were arguments about the vision of the investigation. ‘I highly evaluate the qualifications of prosecutor Pasionek and his extraordinary involvement in the investigation. In my opinion all the accusations against him are groundless. It is a provocation. He acted within his competences and obligations. What has happened to him is a result of the antagonism between prosecutor Krzysztof Parulski and Pasionek,’ stresses lawyer Rafal Rogalski, the proxy of several families of the victims of the plane crash. There are many examples of Parulski’s aversion towards Pasionek. Suffice to remind you the situation when they went to Moscow in 2010. The formalities concerning Pasionek’s accreditation were not completed. And he did not have full access to the investigation acts,’ Rogalski explains. ‘In my opinion this negligence was intentional since similar situations happened many times. Pasionek said that he did not feel safe in the military prosecutor’s office. He indicated that provocations to discredit him were possible.’ The proxy cannot imagine a further investigation without the involvement of prosecutor Pasionek. On the one hand, he is an independent and outstanding lawyer and on the other hand, his absence would be dangerous for the further course of the investigation. A new prosecutor will need ca. six months to get acquainted with the proceedings of the investigation. And without that knowledge it would be hard to speak about any supervision. Therefore, we hope that Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet will waive the suspension of Marek Pasionek.

Non-victimised families

The first alarming signal of castling in the investigation was the separation of the so-called organisational matters and referring them from the military prosecutor’s office to the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw-Praga. The civil lawyers concluded rather quickly that the victims’ families would not have the status of the victimised. ‘The dereliction concerning the way the visits of the Prime Minister and the President were organised do not harm directly the good of those families but are against the widely understood public interest, i.e., safety of the air traffic participants,’ said Renata Mazur, spokesperson of the District Prosecutor’s Office Warsaw-Praga which investigates the organisation motif of the investigation. The odd legal ‘logic’ means only that the potential contribution to the death of 96 passengers of Tu-154M did not harm their families but only ‘widely understood public interest.’
“I have no evidence to say that the prosecutors acted under political pressure. But when I talked about it to some other experienced lawyers I could see meaningful smiles on their faces,’ stresses lawyer Malgorzata Wassermann, the daughter of late Zbigniew Wassermann. One can speak about sweeping the organisational motif under the carpet. Having no status of the victimised the families of the victims and their proxies cannot submit motions as to evidence and they have no access to the records of investigation. If the proceeding is discontinued they cannot appeal against the decision. It can be explained in only one way: someone is afraid of the families and their lawyers! ‘These activities are deliberate. I believe less and less that we can break the resistance to let us have access to the evidence and its transparency. Therefore, we are waiting for the intervention of Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet,’ Malgorzata Wassermann says. ‘As a Krakow judge he was an unblemished man. Our hope is in him.’
The controversial decision of the civil prosecutor’s office and the removal of prosecutor Pasionek lead to a coherent conclusion that someone is in deadly fear of accusations. The plane belonged to the state and consequently, three ministries and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister are mainly responsible for the passengers’ safety and the whole organisation. Tu-154M and its crew were subordinated to the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for the diplomatic organisation of the visit and all arrangements with the Russians. Whereas the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration was responsible for the security services – the Government Security Office and Internal Security Agency. The co-ordinator of the work of these departments and direct administer of the plane was the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.

They are waiting for the exhumations

‘The dereliction of duties of the Polish officials was bigger. ‘One thing is the fatal preparation and safeguard of the presidential delegation and the other serious dereliction was the way of placing in safety the key evidence. I am sure that in the future we will have an investigation of the way this investigation was conducted. There are so many errors that several investigation parliamentary committees will have plenty of work to do,’ Malgorzata Wassermann thinks. One of the very painful matters concerning the dereliction of duties is the autopsies. Since the documentation sent by Moscow evokes indignation. The families of the victims speak more and more loudly and boldly, revealing how they were manipulated and led astray by the ministers of the Polish government. Despite the earlier assurance no Polish expert was present during the autopsies of the victims. When the team of Minister Ewa Kopacz reached Moscow everything had already been done. No wonder the families show concern and desire to put motions concerning exhumation. ‘In the case of Przymyslaw Gosiewski neither his height nor health condition are right,’ the lawyer Rogalski explains. In his opinion the coffins could have contained wrong corpses or their fragments. For several days the agents of the Internal Security Agency have taken samples containing genetic codes from the families. ‘I want to stress firmly that it has nothing to do with the incorrectness of the identification of the victims’ bodies but it only results from the experts’ expectations in the context of the opinions they are working on,’ tries to soothe Colonel Zbigniew Rzepa, the spokesman of the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office. But the families of the victims are losing patience since they have been soothed for too long. Although Malgorzata Wassermann was in Moscow and had no doubts that the body of her father was buried in the coffin she also demands the exhumation. ‘I am 100% sure that the documentation of my father was falsified,’ she stresses. The acts sent from Moscow contain the description of the inner organs of Zbigniew Wassermann but actually he did not have them since they had been removed during a serious operation in 1989. During the autopsy and then on the basis of the documentation one can define very essential circumstances of death. The victims’ bodies are one of the few proofs as for the plane crash that we had in Poland from almost the beginning. However, from the very beginning the officials from the Chancellery of the Prime Minister tried to convince the families that the coffins could not have been opened. ‘But all influences of the external factors, e.g., high temperature leaves traces that an experienced court doctor can interpret, indicating possible causes of death and indirectly the course and the causes of the crash,’ Malgorzata Wassermann explains. As a lawyer she poses one of many questions, ‘Could a victim live after the plane hit the ground and if yes, why nobody tried to help him/her?’ But we cannot answer this question since surely it is too late.

"Niedziela" 26/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: