Poland summons Russian ambassador over plane crash victims' photos

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 17, 2012 8:38 AM
Poland summons Russian ambassador over plane crash victims' photos

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Warsaw on Wednesday to protest against the release of photographs showing mangled bodies from a 2010 plane crash that killed the Polish president and 95 others.

Several Russian websites published photographs depicting what appeared to be the body of President Lech Kaczynski and partial remains of others who died when a government plane crashed in heavy fog in western Russia.

"Deputy Minister (Jerzy) Pomianowski told the Russian ambassador that Poland expects the Russian authorities to take firm measures, promptly launch an inquiry into the matter, and punish those responsible for the leaked images," the foreign ministry said in a statement released after the meeting with envoy Alexander Alexeev.

The appearance of the photographs is another embarrassment for Russian and Polish authorities after prosecutors in Warsaw last month said at least two families received and buried the wrong bodies.

That revelation has raised questions about how many other bodies were wrongly identified after the crash - an event which traumatized the nation and still complicates relations with Poland's neighbor Russia.

The foreign ministry said it acknowledged that Russia, which oversaw the investigation of the catastrophe and the identification of the victims, took steps to block some Russian websites that posted the photographs.

Reuters was able to access one of the websites with links to seven photographs, showing the site of the crash with scattered bodies, remains on a plastic canvas and the body of what appeared to be President Kaczynski on a metal gurney and a black coffin.

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Russia's federal Investigative Committee, which answers only to President Vladimir Putin, said in a statement on Wednesday it was looking into the case and seeking to establish who was behind the publication. It added it was also aiming to withdraw the pictures from media.

Russian investigators have blamed the crew of the Polish government Tu-154 for the crash, while a Polish report pointed the finger at Russian ground controllers for allowing the jet to land in heavy fog at a small airport near Smolensk.

(Reporting by Chris Borowski; Editing by Myra MacDonald)