‘Ultimately responsible’: Ukraine had every reason to shut airspace before MH17 crash

Ukraine bears full responsibility for the safety of its airspace and should admit that it was a mistake to not close its skies to commercial air travel before the tragic MH17 crash, international lawyer Thomas Sima told RT.

Dutch MPs held a parliamentary session investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, with Kiev’s failure to close its airspace for civilian aircraft being among the topics up for debate.

READ MORE: Dutch MPs slam secrecy, question lack of evidence in MH17 investigation 

RT: So the Dutch lawmakers have raised a number of questions over the MH17 tragedy – do you think they are likely to get any answers though?

Thomas Sima: Well it sounds like they may not. There are a lot of issues. Any criminal investigation revolves around evidence. And at all levels it sounds as though the evidence is being blocked. From what I understand Ukraine has not released key radar information. There is no reason why they should not be doing that. And some aspects of the investigation have been sealed. And so if evidence is sealed and you are not allowed to see it, and other evidence is being withheld, it is going to be hard to make a case and prove it.

RT: Ukraine did not notify the European Air Traffic Organisation ‘EuroControl’ about the fact that its radars hadn't been working. Why has Ukraine not been brought to account?

TS: Well they should be, because Ukraine is ultimately responsible for that airspace. Based on international law and international regulations that have been promulgated to facilitate air travel – particularly civilian air travel – Ukraine remain responsible for that airspace even if they did not have control over the entirety of its borders. And it was their responsibility to say that that airspace was not safe to travel due to ongoing military action. And Ukraine had every reason to know that there were problems in that part of the country. There were problems in areas that were even nominally under their control. And there were problems with radar, there were problems with military aircraft operating in the area. There was no reason why they would lose that responsibility in any way shape or form. So Ukraine remains ultimately responsible and the people that are bringing a lawsuit against them are absolutely right to do so.

RT: Why do you think the US has not handed the key information it claims to have about the shooting down of the jet, to the investigators?

TS: That is a really good question and honestly the only answer that I could think of is that the US realizes that the evidence that it has is not quite as unambiguous as John Kerry claiming it was. And if that is the case, then perhaps… I’ve seen speculation, that it could have been a Ukrainian surface to air missile from Ukrainian territory, and if that is the case and if that is what the US evidence is showing, then it would be very embarrassing to the Administration to let that out.

Frankly, there is no other reason I could see why they would fail to disclose it because this is not evidence that was gathered through covert means, through covert sources, where the US could have an argument that it was trying to protect its sources. You know this is satellite footage, this is something everyone is aware exists. There is no really secrecy argument here.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.