15:41 GMT10 April 2021
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    The Polish Prosecutor General's Office has started the process of arresting the air traffic controllers who were working at the Smolensk airfield in western Russia at the time of a 2010 plane crash that killed Poland's then-president.

    "Investigative group No.1 of the Prosecutor General's Office applied to the district court of the Warsaw-Mokotow region with a motion for the temporary arrest of three air traffic controllers who served at the Smolensk-Severny airport in 2010," Polish Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson Ewa Bialik told reporters.

    "The charges brought against the air traffic controllers relate to the deliberate provocation of a plane crash that resulted in the death of many people," Bialik added.

    The prosecutor's office earlier issued a decree to alter the charges against Russian air traffic controllers from unintentionally provoking the disaster to causing it by deliberate action.

    During a re-investigation of the 2010 plane crash, the Polish commission revealed in 2018 that it had found traces of explosives in the wreckage, although soil samples collected at the site at the time did not contain any such traces. As such, the commission went on to claim that the crash was prompted by the alleged presence of explosives.

    Following claims that Russia may have been responsible for the crash, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the explosives might have been taken aboard the plane in Poland and noted that the first Polish investigation into the incident said that the pilots' erroneous actions may have caused the disaster, Sputnik reported.

    On April 10, 2010, a Russia-made Tu-154M passenger plane carrying then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, several high-ranking Polish officials and others crashed while attempting to land on an airfield covered in heavy fog near Smolensk, killing all 96 passengers aboard the plane.


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