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Katyń Massacre: Russian investigators took 15 years to get nowhere

12.06.2006    source:
"The Katyń case cannot be considered closed without establishing and making public the names of all those people who took part in this crime" - Memorial

Rev. Msgr Zdzisław Peszkowski, now 87, who survived the Katyń Massacre of Polish officers in 1940, has supported the claim against Russia which relatives of the victims of Katyń have lodged with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the agency "Благовест-инфо" reports.

“It is good that the families of those killed have finally written to Strasbourg about their murdered fathers, grandfathers and uncles”, Rev. Monsignor  Zdzisław Peszkowski – a former cavalry officer who miraculously escaped death during the massacre of the Polish officers in the Katyń forest stated.

The Priest is now the chaplain for the Association of Relatives of the Victims of Katyń. The Association asserts that Russia, by refusing to investigate the mass murder of Polish officers by the Soviet military, is violating the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.

Around 21,000 Polish military servicemen, mainly reserve forces, called up after the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, were taken as prisoners of war by the Soviet forces who occupied the eastern part of their country following the pact between Moscow and Berlin.  They were shot in 1940.

In 1990 the Soviet Union acknowledged responsibility for the murder of the Polish citizens (before that, Moscow had always claimed that the Germans had been responsible). Nonetheless, the Soviet and later Russian authorities restricted access to historical archives on Katyń for investigators which hampered the search for the remains of the victims of the crime.

The Nuremberg Trials of Nazi criminals also considered the Katyń Massacre and declared the murder of Polish military officers to have been an act of genocide.  Despite this, in March this year, the Chief Military Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Savenkov stated that there were “no grounds” for classifying what happened at Katyń as genocide. He claimed that as a result of 15 years studying the case, the Russian investigators had only discovered the traces of 1,803 murders.

Zdzisław Peszkowski asserts that it will be possible to speak of forgiveness for the crimes of 1940 only when “the truth and the law” prevail. “Only 432 people survived, and we are still awaiting recognition from the world for what happened to all those others”, according to the Priest who was nominated by Polish parliamentarians for the Nobel Peace Prize for devoting his life to establishing justice in relation to the victims of Katyń.

The Russian nongovernmental organization “Memorial”, which has for many years been involved in uncovering the truth about mass political terror in the USSR, stresses:

"The Katyń case cannot be considered closed without establishing and making public the names of all those people who took part in this crime – both the initiators (who are already known), and those who carried it out at all levels. We understand that it is impossible to bring the criminals to justice if they have already died. Nonetheless they must be named. This was and is carried out in all civilized countries, as a rule, without the creation of special tribunals. It is also required by Russian legislation, in particular, the Law of the Russian Federation “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression” (Article 18 § 2).”

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