Dutch Investigators Present Report on MH17 Crash, Russia Considers Probe Biased
The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Wednesday presented a report on the details of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plane in 2014, saying that it was downed by a Buk missile system which was allegedly brought from Russia, however Moscow disagreed with the team's conclusions.
NIEUWEGEIN (Netherlands) (Sputnik) – Flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine, while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, leaving no survivors. Kiev and independence supporters in Ukraine's southeast have blamed each other for the downing of the MH17 plane.
According to the JIT, the flight was downed by a 9М38 missile launched from Buk, which was brought from Russia and later returned there, near with the Pervomayskoe settlement, which was controlled by Donbas militias. At the same time the investigators failed to prove that the system had been brought from the Russian territory. Russia's Almaz-Antey, which was Buk manufacturer, said that it's tests revealed that the missile had been launched from Zaroshchenskoe settlement.
Director of the National Criminal Investigation Division of National Police of the Netherlands Wilbert Paulissen said that at the moment of the downing, militias had resisted Ukrainian Air Force's airstrikes. At the same time, JIT chief and Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke declined to formally link the crash to Russia or Russian nationals.
According to Westerbeke, the investigators have identified 100 people "in one way or another" involved in the downing, but added that they should identify people, who were in the Buk's cabin and to find out whether they acted on their own or received orders.
The investigators also reported that they would continue the probe into the flight crash until early 2018.
THOUSANDS OF EVIDENCES
Westerbeke told reporters that the results of the investigation were based on the investigation of some 1,450 debris of the plane that had been collected within the framework of the probe, as well as on the evidences collected in Internet. He added that up to 200 investigators worked on the issue during the investigation and some 100 investigators, prosecutors and experts were still involved in the inquiry.
He added that the investigators had studied about half a million of video records and photographs and listened about 3,500 intercepted phone conversations, which had been provided by Ukraine's security services by court order.
According to the investigators, the abovementioned materials contributed to clarification of the Buk's route.
During the report's presentation, the JIT showed reporters video records and photographs showing the details of Buk's movement and a phone conversation of people, who discussed the details of the Buk's delivery. The presentation had also included photos of an alleged launch site and a condensation trail.
INFORMATION FROM RUSSIA
Despite the fact that Russia is not a member of the JIT, the information from Moscow had also been attached to the case. The Russian Defense Ministry said this week it would forward the new data uncovered by one of the Almaz-Antey's radar and control system production plants to Dutch investigators.
Commenting on this fact, Westerbeke told reporters that the investigators had not received such information yet, but would thoroughly study it in future. At the same time the Dutch prosecutors were still expecting Russia's response to several requests on the issue.
Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the MH17 crash probe was accompanied by speculation and other countries' refusal to provide radar data, adding that it was necessary to make conclusions against the backdrop of all the available information, including the most recent data.
The report and its conclusions could not have slipped under the radar in Moscow. Almaz-Antey rejected the findings in the probe, saying that the investigators had not got enough technical evidence to support their claims.
"The conclusions by the Joint Investigation Team announced today do not have sufficient technical evidence to support claims allegations that Russia was somehow involved in Malaysian Boeing catastrophe in summer of 2014," Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to Almaz-Antey general director, told RIA Novosti.
According to Malyshevsky, Almaz-Antey has conducted three simulations that can serve as technical proof of the fact that a missile, which downed the Malaysian plane, was launched from the Zaroshchenskoe area, controlled by units of the Ukrainian army at the time of the incident.
He added that the investigators made their conclusions in accordance with the characteristics of a US missile that was different from the ones used in Buk systems.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the impartiality of the data provided by the investigators of the crash and the conclusions made on the basis of this data cannot help but cause doubts.
"We familiarized ourselves carefully with today's statements of the representatives of the Dutch investigation team on proving the crash of the Malaysian Boeing MH17 in the Ukrainian airspace… I remind that all data presented today in the briefing of the investigation team had two main sources – the internet and the Ukrainian special services. Therefore, the impartiality of this data and consequently the conclusions made on its basis cannot help but cause doubts," Konashenkov said.
The official added that no Russian missile systems, including Buk, have ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia was disappointed with the situation around the investigation of the airliner's crash.
"Russia is disappointed that the situation regarding the Boeing crash is not changing. The conclusion of the Dutch prosecutors confirm that the case is biased and politically motivated," Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the ministry, said in a statement.
According to the spokeswoman, Ukraine was made a member of the JIT despite the fact that it is an interested side.
"It sounds like a cruel joke, but Ukraine was made a full-fledged member of the JIT, giving it an opportunity to falsify evidence and have the case develop to its advantage… Everything that the so-called 'evidence base' of the Dutch prosecution is based on was provided by the Ukrainian agencies, which are indubitably an interested side," Zakharova said.
She also expressed hope that the situation would change after Russia provided "such indisputable evidence as primary radar data."
The 2014 tragedy claimed lives of almost 300 people, who were the citizens of many countries, such as Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Indonesia among others. This has contributed to the fact that representatives of different countries have commented the Wednesday report.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to convene a meeting with representatives of Ukraine, Netherlands and Australia to discuss the report adding that the responsible for the crash should be brought to justice.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders welcomed the publication of the results of the investigation.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the JIT's conclusions are a significant step towards the punishment of the culprits of the crash.
"The publication of this information is an important milestone towards our ultimate common goal: bringing to justice all those responsible for downing the aircraft. It is our moral duty to the 298 victims and their relatives and friends," the ministerial statement said.
The deputy defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's (DPR), Eduard Basurin, said that the JIT was wrong in its conclusions about the alleged launch of the missile from militias-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.
"I believe that it [investigation] is brought to a deadlock on purpose. For the second time the team makes its conclusions, for the second time the conclusions are wrong," Basurin told journalists adding that neither the United State nor Ukraine provided radar or satellite data used as a basis for accusations against Donbas militias.
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