US officials say Ukraine rebels behind MH17 downing, Dutch team cannot confirm
US officials reportedly familiar with the Dutch report on the MH17 crash in Ukraine that took place a year ago blamed the rebels for shooting down the plane, according to US media. The Dutch investigators told RT they “cannot confirm” this.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, heading from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur, crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. The Dutch Safety Board has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash since a large number of passengers on the flight were from Holland while the plane itself flew out of Amsterdam.
According to CNN, who cited two anonymous US officials, the plane was downed by the eastern Ukrainian militia.
“Dutch accident investigators say that evidence points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible for shooting down MH-17, according to a source who has seen the report,” CNN reported Wednesday. DSB is due to release their report in October, so what the channel’s sources may have seen is a draft.
One of the sources also alleged the draft identified the “exact type of missile used to bring down MH17 and the trajectory of the missile.”
Both the sources claimed the Dutch investigators partly put the blame for the crash on Malaysia Airlines, which did not divert the plane from the conflict zone.
“The Malaysia Airlines was not reading other countries' notice to airmen or NOTAMs and it continued to fly over the zone,” says CNN. NOTAM stands for Notice to Airmen, which is filed with an aviation authority to alert pilots of potential hazards along their route.
The Dutch Safety Board spokesperson told RT the investigators “cannot confirm” this information.
"I cannot confirm anything. It's a confidential draft report, which has been sent to the International Investigation Team and I cannot provide any details about it as long as it is a draft report - so we only give comments when the final report is issued,” Sara Vernooij said over the phone.
(1/2) #MH17 The draft final report is confidential. Dutch Safety Board will not respond to reports regarding the content of the draft report— Wim van der Weegen (@wimvdweegen) July 15, 2015
There are two parallel investigations into the disaster, both headed by the Dutch, with the first carried by the DBS looking into the cause of the crash. The second investigation carried out by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is a criminal inquiry.
Previous leaks and takes
There have been similar media reports blaming Ukraine anti-government forces for the tragedy, but the Dutch have not backed any of it.
In March reports made by Ukrainian media claimed that the Dutch team had already come to the conclusion it was a pro-Russian Buk surface-to-air missile system that shot down the Boeing airliner.
Regarding the Ukrainian reports, Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) spokesman Wim de Bruin told RT: “I can say for sure they are not correct.”
The same month the Netherlands broadcaster RTL alleged that MH17 was shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile showcasing a metal fragment from the crash site of the plane that supposedly matches a missile found by a journalist.
The report was turned down by the Dutch Safety Board as well, because the investigation “focuses on many more sources than only the shrapnel.”
A Dutch report on the official investigation published in September 2014 said the crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside. However, it did not conclude what the objects were, where they came from, or who was responsible.
In October 2014 the German Der Spiegel reported that the chief Dutch prosecutor investigating the MH17 downing as saying that he does not exclude the possibility that the aircraft might have been shot down from air.
This was in line with Moscow’s report on the catastrophe. Following the downing of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight in July, Russia’s Defense Ministry released military monitoring data, which showed a Kiev SU-25 jet tracking the passenger plane shortly before the crash.
In July Russia’s Defense Ministry also urged the US to release the space photos and data captured by an American satellite flying over the area of eastern Ukraine at the moment of the MH17 crash. No such images have yet been published.
Former SU 25 pilots told RT in March about the jet’s capabilities agreeing that it can carry out high altitude flights and carry powerful missiles.
Malaysia calls for international tribunal
On Tuesday, Malaysia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those behind the crash.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported in December that relatives of MH17 crash victims addressed the Netherlands requesting the UN takes over the prolonged investigation into the downing of the passenger plane over Ukraine, blaming the Dutch of mishandling the inquiries into the disaster.
Former advisor to US Republican senators James G. Jatras told RT that he believes the investigation has been politicized.
“There is an ongoing investigation and I am concerned that that is headed by the Dutch who are a member of NATO. [The investigation] is already tainted by a political process,” he said. “All the countries that do have technical means and can point to what exactly happened should be transparent about this. And I don’t think that’s happening unfortunately. So this remains more of a political process than a process establishing responsibility and justice.”