Council of Europe body to vote about Smoleńsk crash

Remains of the presidential TU-154 which crashed in Smolensk on April 10, 2010 (photograph taken in October 2010). Photo: PAP/Itar-Tass/Lisinova Olga

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will discuss and vote on Friday on a resolution calling on Moscow to return the wreckage of the Tu-154M airplane which crashed near Smoleńsk, Russia, on April 10, 2010.

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The draft of the resolution was unanimously accepted in June. It says that, according to Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, known as the Chicago Convention, the country on whose soil the accident happened is obliged to return the wreckage and all necessary evidence to the country where the aircraft was registered after the technical examination is finished. The draft says that this examination was concluded in January 2011, upon publication of the final report by the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee.

“The permanent Russian refusal to return the wreckage and other evidence is a violation of the law, fuelling speculation that the Russian Federation has something to hide,” the document reads.

The resolution will call on the Russian Federation to return the wreckage without unnecessary delay, in a way that will prevent any further degradation of the evidence, and properly secure the wreckage until the return, as well as prevent any activities that may be considered as desecrating the crash site,”which has a powerful emotional significance for many Poles.”

The draft of the resolution was based on the report by MP Pieter Omtzigt from the Netherlands, who based his conclusions on the opinions of experts in international law: Timothy Brymer from the UK, and Pablo Mendes de Leon from Spain, who pointed out that the wreckage should be returned to Poland, in accordance with the Chicago Convention.

The wreckage of the Tu-154m plane remains in the airport area in Smoleńsk, western Russia, since 2010. Russian authorities claim that they cannot give the wreckage back to Poland until the investigation is over.

On April 10, 2010, the Polish Presidential plane Tu-154 crashed in Smoleńsk, western Russia, killing all 96 people on board, including the Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and numerous high-ranking officials and military commanders.

The PACE is the parliamentary arm of the Council of Europe. It consists of 324 members, who are chosen from national parliaments of the Council’s member states.

The draft of the resolution can be read at this address.