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Polish Air Force chief was possibly in cockpit of crashed presidential plane - Ukraine agency

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Non-crew members were in the cockpit of the Polish presidential plane that crashed in April near the western Russian city of Smolensk, killing everyone on board, the head of the Interstate Aviation Committee said on Wednesday.

"It was proven that non-crew members were in the cockpit," Tatyana Anodina said.

Ukraine's UNIAN news agency reported on Wednesday a Polish Air Force commander and the Foreign Ministry's chief protocol officer were in the cockpit of the crashed presidential plane.

RIA Novosti was unable to immediately verify the information.

Anodina said the voice of one person was identified while the others are being identified by Polish officials.

She did not specify the number of people in the cockpit or their identities.

The Interstate Aviation Committee technical chief, Alexei Morozov, said Russian controllers had repeatedly warned the crew of the Polish president's plane of bad weather conditions and landing should be avoided.

"The lead controller warned the crew twice about fog at the airport, visibility of 400 meters, and that landing is impossible," Morozov said.

The committee also said that the plane's crew had no information on navigation or weather conditions at the destination point.

Morozov said the crew had received weather data, which included the actual and forecasted weather in the departure airport, emergency airfields, as well as the weather forecast on the flight route. "The crew had no actual weather or forecast information at the final destination at Smolensk Airport."

Russian Foreign Ministry official representative Andrei Nesterenko said on Wednesday that Russia is planning to hand records from the plane's voice recorder to the Polish side under a memorandum on cooperation which is due to be signed between Russian and Polish state commissions, as well as the Interstate Aviation Committee, as an international body.

Earlier this month, Poland's Law and Justice party, led by the twin brother of the late president, sent a letter to the country's prosecutor general with questions on the presidential plane crash probe.

Russian and Polish investigators and experts are jointly investigating the causes of the deadly crash, while Polish military prosecutors are conducting their own investigation.

Polish Attorney General Krzysztof Parulski said last month that the Polish side was "impressed by how well the investigation was organized by Russian specialists." He also said that Russia's support was beyond the limits of the existing Convention on mutual legal assistance.

A Soviet-made Tu-154 aircraft crashed on April 10 when it attempted to land in thick fog, killing all 96 people on board, including President Lech Kaczynski and other top state officials.

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