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Poland’s defence minister has asked prosecutors to investigate alleged negligence by Donald Tusk, EU council president, related to the 2010 Smolensk air crash that killed dozens of senior Poles and the country’s then president, Lech Kaczynski.

Antoni Macierewicz told a newspaper interview he suspected that Mr Tusk, who was then Polish prime minister, was guilty not just of negligence but of “actual crimes” related to the crash. He said he had asked prosecutors to investigate.

“In my opinion, it was not negligence but a criminal offence,” Mr Macierewicz told Gazeta Polska Codziennie. “Prime Minister Donald Tusk made an illegal deal with [Russian president] Vladimir Putin to harm Poland and it should be a matter of criminal liability.”

“Any position in a Polish or European organisation does not discharge someone from liability for crimes as serious as those that Donald Tusk is suspected of,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Poland’s national prosecutors confirmed receiving a request from Mr Macierewicz to investigate alleged “diplomatic treason” by Mr Tusk.

Mr Macierewicz also discussed in the interview a tender to carry out maintenance in Russia on the Tupolev plane that later crashed at Smolensk. Mr Macierewicz alleged that Mr Tusk arranged for the contract to be given to “a friend of Vladimir Putin, who knew that his company would repair a plane that flies the president of Poland”.

The move significantly escalates the bitter feud between the Warsaw government and Mr Tusk – as well as the EU more broadly – after Poland failed in attempts this month to block the former premier’s appointment to a second term as EU council president.

Mr Tusk’s office could not be immediately reached for comment. The former Polish premier has denied any responsibility for the crash, which an official investigation concluded was an accident.

But Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and twin brother of the late president, has long insisted the crash was not an accident and sought to link Mr Tusk to it, saying the then Polish premier was “morally responsible”.

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