‘Least visited crash site in the world’: More blame than answers 6 mo after MH17 tragedy
Almost half a year since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down above war-torn eastern Ukraine, speculations in international media are only adding fuel to the blame game. RT's documentary team traveled to Australia and Europe to get some answers.
"I blame the conflict for the whole incident. I just think, at the end of the day, war is the problem. I thought that bringing a plane down would hopefully get people to think twice about what they are doing," Paul Guard in Australia, who lost both his parents in the tragedy, told RT Documentary (RTD). His hopes turned out to be in vain: "Unfortunately, it seemed to actually escalate after the MH17. So that quite disappointed me," he added.
In much of Australia's media – with 27 out of 298 crash victims being Australians – fingers are pointed at Russia, blaming Vladimir Putin for allowing militants in eastern Ukraine to take down the passenger airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
"The German secret service, the British secret service, and the Australian intelligent services believe that the jet was shot down by Ukrainian rebels who were backed by Russia," Desmond Houton, assistant editor at The Courier Mail newspaper told RTD, without a shadow of a doubt.
"The shooting down of the plane was an event that was largely orchestrated by Moscow," the journalist continued. "We believe Mr. Putin should say sorry. And we are demanding he say sorry and we are demanding that he pay compensation to 298 victims that lost their lives in this debacle," Houton said, failing to provide any proof to his theories, but being hard-shell in his allegations.
But there are those who choose not to believe mainstream media, and instead try to find their own answers by questioning and examining available pieces of evidence and information.
Having traveled from Australia back to Europe, RTD went to Germany to meet Peter Haisenko, a former pilot and aviation expert. After studying photographs of the MH17 wreckage, Haisenko came to the conclusion that it was an intentional air-to-air attack.
"You can see it, that's a part of the plane, here's where the captain sits. And here's the bullet entry hole. And this is where the bullet trace from the wing leads to, and it's aimed directly at the pilot here," said the former pilot, who thinks the crew was killed after the engines were damaged, to make sure the plane and its passengers had no chance of survival.
Unlike the Australian editor, the aviation expert is less eager to place blame.
"If you look at the reports, or the comments made by the US from the beginning, you will see that they haven't actually lied. They just chose their words very wisely," Haisenko said, quoting Hillary Clinton's interview in which she said that the airplane was definitely shot down by Russian-made weapons.
"It's true! Because Ukraine only has Russian weapons!" the expert told RTD, adding it was "unbelievably clever propaganda, in which one says the truth, but doesn't put it into context."
Another German specialist, missile expert Bernd Biedermann, agrees that only allegations exist months after the tragedy.
"Going on the documents, the pictures, and the reports that we have, there is not one single piece of evidence proving it was an anti-aircraft missile. It just doesn't exist," he said, shocked by the lack of professional expertise in the investigation process.
"It's beyond me, how in the first days after the crash over 50 specialists had arrived at the scene, including ones from the OSCE, and no one managed to secure evidence which could then be analyzed in laboratory conditions," Biedermann told RTD.
"The Dutch government should have done much more! Should have been much quicker to go to the crash site. They should have been there because they have been given the lead in the investigation by the other countries like Malaysia and Australia that also have a lot of victims," said Bob Van der Goen, a lawyer for relatives of the MH17 victims.
Those 298 people had their lives taken above the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, and those who witnessed their final moments are still not being heard – particularly because they come from the conflict zone, which is controlled by anti-Kiev forces.
"There was a booming sound, and people started falling from the sky. We heard them hitting the ground," a local woman told RTD. "It was terrible, the road was all covered in blood. There was a woman's leg lying, with the nails painted red," another local recollects. They all claim to have seen a fighter jet. But few investigators have agreed to hear their stories.
"This is the least visited crash site in the world! No one's been too keen to come and examine the site," Andrey Purgin of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said.
Watch the documentary 'MH17 Reflection' on RT and RTD, premiering January 16.