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The secrets of the Boeing downed in Donbas 

The secrets of the Boeing downed in Donbas 
Sophia Korniyenko

The publication of the report made by the investigative committee regarding the Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash on July 17, 2014 will take place at 10 a.m., Western European time on Tuesday, September 9. This was stated by the Netherlands Security Council on Thursday. The Ukrainian side gave command power over the investigation of the reasons of the tragedy to the Netherlands, as the majority of the passengers who died onboard the airliner had been Dutch. 

Before mid-August, the international team of 25 investigators worked in Ukraine, then they moved to the Hague to put their report together. The publication of the investigation report was postponed many times, as the investigation was impeded by the situation in the region, and there was no opportunity to verify all information sources for a long time. Commentators exclude political motives of the publication’s tardiness.

On Tuesday, the first so-called preliminary report will be issued, which aimed to restore the general picture of the events of the tragedy. Its publication will not be followed by a press conference. The final report, which, besides the main facts, will contain an analysis of what happened and conclusions drawn based on this analysis, will only be ready within a year, next summer, stated the Dutch security council. The preliminary report is based on facts from various sources: for example, the black boxes, photographic evidence, satellite images and radar data. All of this information was methodically compared to exclude contradictions.

Unfortunately, the international experts never managed to personally visit the Boeing crash site. Their security risk was seen as higher than the risk of the members of the team that repatriated the bodies of the deceased. If the situation in the region stabilizes, the Security Council does not exclude the possibility of the investigators visiting the crash site during the year, before the publication of the final report. However, as the Council notes, in order to conduct an investigation, there is no absolute necessity of physical presence of the investigators at the crash site, as they have enough information from the aforementioned sources.

Concrete data from the report remain secret until Tuesday. It is only known that according to the investigation, at the moment when the Malaysian Airlines flight was downed on that fatal morning of July 17, it was flying one kilometer below the planned altitude. Ukrainian dispatchers asked the MH17 pilots to go lower to 10 kilometers, as another plane was flying at an altitude of 11 kilometers. As to the rest, the MH17 flight did not stray off-course. This information was shared by Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans when answering the questions of the members of the parliament.

Opposition parliament members are also asking the Dutch government to find information about the “secret” agreement which the office of the Prosecutor General of the Netherlands reached with colleagues from three other countries, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, on August 7. The agreement has to do with the criminal investigation of the Boeing crash. The Dutch members of the Parliament are surprised that the text of the agreement had never been published or signed by Malaysia. The criminal investigation of the MH17 crash is underway in the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine. Several Dutch investigators and one prosecutor are still at work in Ukraine.

These are not all the complains that the parliament members have regarding the Dutch government. In their letter to the Cabinet of Ministers the members of the Parliament also lament that the Dutch mission to repatriate the remains communicated too little with the emergency service on location. In particular, Dutch TV program RTL News interviewed two heads of such services, which worked at the plane crash site. During the first days after the tragedy, they searched 160 square kilometers with the help of volunteers, however experts from western countries who came to the crash site later never addressed them. The parliament members’ letter also cites an interview with the so-called “Vice Prime Minister” of the “DNR” group Andrey Purgin to “RIA Novosti,” in which he laments that the Western countries never addressed the “local government” (the separatists) in issues of finding the remains. The last accusation is somewhat naïve – it is well-known that the Western countries spoke with the separatists through an intermediary, the OSCE.

To be fair, we should note that many heads of local administrations (the real local government) in localities, where the parts and remains of passengers of the Boeing fell, were really forced to work without financial means and orders from Kyiv, the connection with which had been lost, and without the help of foreign states, whose governments were afraid to taint themselves with direct contact with the separatists or locals that sympathize with them.

“In the villages upon which bodies fell from the sky, children have been seeing nightmares for days, and the locals were forced to go to the only shop around using a road along which naked and maimed bodies lay, so nobody knew what to do in such a situation, nobody gave the local governments advice or orders,” wrote Wall Street Journal at the end of July.

A representative of the Dutch mission responded to the parliament members’ complains by saying that the team got detailed instructions from the Ukrainian side and spoke with all those directly involved as much as security demands would allow them. The information received from the local emergency service would not have changed the course of the operation in any case, as “we wanted to search not based on third-person accounts, we wanted to investigate everything ourselves,” stated the Dutch participants of the repatriation mission.

The Dutch government stated in an official response to the Parliament on Wednesday that the government of the country had earlier acknowledged the fact that the volunteers and local emergency organizations near Donetsk had really been more thorough in their search and preservation of the remains that had been reported in the first days after the tragedy. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his gratitude to the southeastern Ukrainian emergency service workers and volunteers in the beginning of August. Nonetheless, the Netherlands consider it necessary to continue the operation of searching for the remains at the crash site as soon as the situation in the region allow it, says the message of the government.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing crash near Donetsk took 298 lives, of which 198 had been citizens of the Netherlands. As of today, original genetic material of 283 people had been found at the crash site. It is possible that these DNA samples might include samples that did not belong to the Boeing passengers, as war is going on around the crash zone.


Source: Radio Liberty 

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

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