'Unanswered MH17 questions need criminal investigation'

Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, presents the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in Gilze Rijen, the Netherlands, October 13, 2015. © Michael Kooren
The Dutch Safety Board has reiterated it is not within the remit of the investigation to apportion blame, emphasized international security expert, Charles Shoebridge.

Shoebridge said: "It is important to remember, as it was reiterated by the chairman [Tjibbe Joustra, the Dutch Safety Board] in his speech over and over again, that it is not within the remits of this investigation to apportion blame. Therefore, its investigation has halted, in its judgment anyway, that it has found the technical causes of the incident, and also sufficient information gathered to make further recommendations to prevent this kind instances happening in the future.

For example, they have concluded that a Russian missile, that’s to say, a Russian-manufactured missile, in other words the Buk missile, and of course… this gives scope to western headline writers to put in their headlines that it was a Russian missile, because it is a Russian-made missile- that is not disputed, it would appear from these findings - rather than a Russian-owned missile."

He also added that "once having found that, the enquiry went into some detail to say that three simulations were run as to where the trajectory of this missile flight might have indicated that it had come from. And they haven’t come to any conclusions on that.

So we’ve got a situation where three different parties: the investigation team, the Ukraine government, and the Russian Federation government - with the help of the manufacturers of the missile system who reported in their own report this morning in a separate report - have come to different conclusions where this missile was fired from."

Kees Van Der Pijl, international relations expert, University of Sussex said:“The one thing that I’m absolutely sure about is that I feel that the silence from the West, and the Dutch government in particular, on many of these issues has served whether intentionally or not - and I fear it’s intentional - to allow all the blame to be put on Russia. If you look at the whole history of this terrible tragic accident, there is a strong element of willful demonization of the figure of Vladimir Putin, as the devil incarnate. And every time when you are imprecise in your conclusions, people will draw the conclusion for themselves that it is apparently a Russian act. I find that extremely disconcerting. The reason, for instance, why the US has not made public its satellite information, but has relied in all its public statements of the tragedy on social media, I find very problematic. The same with the press conference today: journalists were not allowed to ask questions. These are things that you have to think about. They lead, in my view, only to one conclusion, and at least some people consciously want to leave an element of uncertainty to allow the suspicion falling on Russia to continue.”

The expert said that "the report also doesn’t address the issue of whose missile this might well have been. For example, were it to have been fired from a rebel area, this may well have been a missile that was either captured from the Ukraine government’s forces, handed over by Ukraine government forces, or could even have been supplied by the Russian Federation, as some western alleged experts have suggested. So again, all this is still open to further investigation. 


Another aspect of this was that the Netherlands’ investigation came, I thought, very close to - notwithstanding that it isn’t within its remit to apportion blame - it really did state quite clearly, that in its view Ukraine was wrong given information that was available to the Ukraine government at the time not to have closed its airspace to a higher ceiling than it did.

And this gives rise to the suggestion that Ukraine should have closed its airspace, and that may well had impact further down the line, because there are legal cases going ahead against the Ukraine government in respect of alleged negligence by that government in not closing its airspace."

Bruno Drweski, professor at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern Civilizations, commented on the DSB final report:“It happens that it is not a real criminal inquiry – it is a rather political inquiry. We are in fact in a situation of a propaganda war because from the very beginning the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) didn’t intervene in the inquiry, and then we had the Dutch which is also not a very neutral country that took the inquiry. So, it is difficult to imagine that this inquiry could have been objective. Apparently, a lot of information is missing – for some reason we cannot know. And I doubt that these 15 months were taken to get to this information they didn’t get anyway. I think it was a preparation to give us an answer which looks more or less objective but which is not objective in that situation”.

"In fact, even for myself, within one hour of the accident happening, my first tweets on this issue were: how come there was an airliner allowed to be flying over a combat zone, and that was a concern that was reiterated today.

In other words, we have some clarity, there are some possible scenarios that have been ruled out by this enquiry, but there are still many questions that remain to be answered. And those presumably will be answered if they are capable of being answered by the criminal investigation by the Dutch prosecutor, which is due to report in some months in the future," Shoebridge told RT.

‘DSB report: not in dispute; just narrow scope'

The Dutch report just confirmed what we had already know, said Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the US Secretary of Defense. This was a very narrow report, he added.

"I think the report was very narrow in scope. We all had concluded that it was done by a surface to air BUK missile. The devil is in the details of that report – what was in the appendixes that we haven’t heard yet. I didn’t hear anything about what the board’s conclusion was on the test that the missile manufacture itself had represented: it was an old missile that shot down the aircraft and not a more modern version. So, this was a very narrow report, not to cast any blame. And also even though they may have said some triangulation of where the actual shot came from, that was not evidenced in this report and that probably would be useful for the criminal report that is going to come out either late this year or early next year. I think the report itself just confirmed what we had already known and it did do away with other speculation of an air-to-air attack, or anything of the sort," Maloof told RT.

Flowers and mementos left by local residents at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are seen near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region, in this July 19, 2014 fie photo. © Maxim Zmeyev

He said: "I am also struck by the fact that the US and the Ukraine still have not provided certain critical information to the Dutch authorities on the actual location from their own means. The question is then raised: Is this to protect their own detection capabilities, or what? I am a little bit bothered by that because we have satellites and other technical capabilities that could actually help pinpoint what the origin of a shot might have come from. The US certainly would have that kind of information, and it’s my information that they have not turned that information over…

As far as the technical aspect of determining the cause of the aircraft crash I think that is not in dispute. But again the details are not sufficient to distinguish whether it was an older version of the BUK or a newer version. That is very critical."


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