Russia says probe into 1940 Katyn massacre can’t be reopened

Monday, May 31, 2010

Russia: Katyn probe can’t be reopened

MOSCOW — There is no legal basis for reopening an investigation into the Katyn massacre, when thousands of Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret police, a top Russian official said Monday.

Interest in reopening the investigation into the 1940 killings has grown amid a recent Russia-Poland rapprochement.

The Soviet Union acknowledged responsibility for the killings in 1990, but a criminal investigation was ended in 2004 after officials said the killings were not genocide.

President Dmitry Medvedev this month turned over scores of volumes from the investigation to his Polish counterpart.

Chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said “by law, it cannot be restarted, given the expiration of the statute of limitations period,” Russian news agencies reported.

International law generally considers that genocide has no statue of limitations.

Katyn inadvertently drew world attention a month ago when Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 other Poles died in a plane crash in Russia while coming to attend a commemoration of the massacre.

The plane crashed April 10 as it was coming in for a landing in Smolensk in heavy fog. Preliminary investigation details appear to point at pilot error, but it remains unclear why the plane attempted to land in such poor conditions.

will not be displayed