Polish Air Force Commander Andrzej Blasik was in the cockpit of the presidential plane that crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk in April, an official said on Tuesday.
The Soviet—made Tu—154 aircraft crashed April 10 when it attempted to land in thick fog, killing 96 people on board, including President Lech Kaczynski and other top state officials.
Earlier, investigators said non—crewmembers were in the cockpit of the plane and their voices were being identified by Polish officials.
“I know who it was. Yes, it was General Blasik,” said Edmund Klich, who heads the Polish commission that investigates air accidents.
He added that it was “very unusual” for a top general to enter the cabin, but said Blasik had done so a few minutes before the tragedy to “find out what was going on”.
The pilot was advised by air traffic controllers to turn around and head for Minsk, the capital of neighbouring Belarus, as the Smolensk military aerodrome lacked the necessary navigational equipment to receive planes in heavy fog.
Shortly after the tragedy, there was speculation that the pilot attempted to land at Smolensk due to pressure from top officials anxious to attend a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, when Soviet secret police executed thousands of Polish military officers.
Mr. Klich refused to speculate on the issue, however, saying only: “I have the materials. We will compare their (the pilots’) mental states at the beginning and at the end.”