EU's Tusk testifies in Poland over 2010 presidential jet crash
Warsaw (AFP) –
EU President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, testified in a Warsaw court on Monday in defence of his former chief of staff facing allegations of negligence in connection with the 2010 crash of a Polish presidential jet in Russia.
Tomasz Arabski, Tusk's chief aide at the time, is being sued for negligence by relatives of some of the victims of the crash that killed then president Lech Kaczynski and all 95 others on board.
Arabski previously denied the allegations, testifying that he had no role in organising the flight to an airstrip near the western city of Smolensk.
The crash occurred in heavy fog as the presidential delegation was heading to a commemoration in Russia's Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by Soviet secret police in 1940 -- a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.
Testifying as a witness, not as a defendant in the case, Tusk -- who served as Polish prime minister between 2007 and 2014 -- also insisted that as premier, he was not responsible for organising such flights.
"I wasn't politically responsible for organising this visit... It's not in any measure the role of the prime minister to handle organisational details," Tusk told judges at the hearing in Warsaw regional court.
"I continue to have a very high opinion about the quality of (Tomasz) Arabski's work," Tusk said.
The case was one that should be evaluated by the prosecutor's office, Tusk said.
He also dismissed suggestions that the crash was some sort of conspiracy in which either he or Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was Russian Prime Minister at the time of the crash, was involved.
"I dealt with drastically unfair accusations that I and Putin orchestrated an attack," Tusk told the court.
Last August, Tusk said he was being targeted in a separate Polish probe into the crash following a marathon eight hours of questioning by prosecutors in Warsaw.
Tusk's allegation came as his political arch-rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski -- the powerful leader o the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the late president Kaczynski's identical twin -- said the former premier "had plenty to fear".
Tusk's testimony comes as Warsaw is trying to find a solution to a high-pitched dispute with the EU over its controversial judicial reforms, denounced by Brussels as violating the rule of law.
© 2018 AFP