Netherlands: MH-17 flight was shot down by Russian military

The international investigative group has accused Russian soldiers of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane in the Donetsk province on July 17, 2014.

Based on the forensic results, collected evidence and eyewitnesses’ photographic material, radar data and satellite pictures provided by Ukraine, Russia and the US, the international investigative group was able to provide irrefutable evidence of which kind of weapon was used to shoot down the Malaysian Boeing, where the weapon came from, and where it was fired from. Thus it is no longer doubted that the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by a Buk anti-air missile system in Eastern Ukraine, which was controlled by pro-Russian armed groups at the time. The exact location where the missile was launched is known (Pervomaiskyi, not far from Snizhne), as well as the type of warhead (a class 9M38 BUK anti-air missile), and the fact that the Buk launcher was brought in from Russia and taken back there.

On Thursday, this data was supplemented by information on the Kursk 53rd Anti-air Missile Brigade and a detailed description of the route taken by the military convoy from Kursk into Ukraine. Journalists have also been shown missile debris discovered in the Donetsk province – the engine nozzle and chassis, with numbers which indicate that the missile was produced in Russia, in Dolgoprudny (Moscow region).

During a press conference, various video recordings were presented which had been made by inhabitants of the settlements through which the military convoy passed while on its way from Kursk to the Donetsk regions. The cooperative group received many such recordings, which is not surprising if one imagines what an impressive sight a convoy of 50 vehicles, including six self-propelled Buk launchers, would have made, observed Wilbert Paulssen, head of the Dutch police’s criminal investigation department.

The investigation has entered its concluding phase, Chief Prosecutor of the Netherlands Fred Westerbeke observed. The goal remains “to hold the guilty accountable”, but a lot of patience will be required to wait until the issuing of the final sentence.

According to Westerbeke, the conclusions of the international investigative group are the carefully checked results of a criminal investigation, and can be used in court. He added that the conditions under which the investigation is being carried out remain extremely cumbersome. The crime scene has so far been partially inaccessible to the investigators, and frequently necessary missing information is classified as a military secret. Furthermore, not all parties are actively collaborating with the investigation. “I state that Russia has not provided us with key information,” Westerbeke said when asked about the level of collaboration with the Russian government.

In April this year it was reported that the investigative group had made a detailed study of the “primary” radar data recently provided by Russia. The Joint Investigative Team reached the conclusion that this data did not contradict the investigation conclusions: the fact that no missile is visible in the Russian images is not surprising, since these radars are configured for passenger planes, and filter out all objects moving at a higher speed.

The international investigative group includes representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine. Last year all of these countries agreed that the court case against the suspects would take place in the Hague, according to the laws of the Netherlands. The creation of an international tribunal at the UN for this case was not possible, due to a veto from Russia. Experts consider it unlikely that suspects from Russia will appear in the Dutch court, since Russia’s constitution does not permit Russian citizens to be extradited to other countries. The Ukrainian constitution has a similar article, but Ukraine has signed a special agreement with the Netherlands that, if there are Ukrainian citizens among the suspects, they will participate in the court proceedings by video, and if they are sentenced, they will receive the punishment determined by the Dutch court in Ukrainian territory.

A Boeing flying route MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot out of the sky over the Donetsk province on July 17, 2014. All 298 persons on board were killed, 196 of them Dutch nationals.

In its final report on the circumstances of the Boeing 777 crash, the Dutch Safety Board said that a ground-to-air missile launched from a Buk missile system was the cause of the catastrophe.

The Kremlin has spread eight false versions of the MH17 crash, in which it blamed Ukraine for the air disaster.

  MH17, Netherlands, Donbas, Buk missile system