May 2018, the Attorney General of the Netherlands Fred Westerbeke said that the investigation into the case of the downed MH17 "is at the last stage," but it’s too early to talk about when it comes to trial so far.
The investigation is progressing slowly but has already achieved certain results. All this time it was accompanied by periodic actions, trials, various statements and a serious confrontation.
Before considering these "certain results", let us recall what happened on July 17, 2014, and later.
What happened on July 17, 2014
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER carried out the scheduled MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
After 2 hours and 49 minutes after takeoff, it fell to the ground in the Grabovo district of the Donetsk region. The plane was completely destroyed; all the passengers who were on board were dead.
There were 298 people on board - 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
Among the dead: 192 Dutch citizens, 44 Malaysian citizens, 27 Australian citizens, 12 Indonesian citizens, 10 British citizens, four German citizens, four Belgians, three Philippine nationals, one person from Canada and one from New Zealand.
Among the dead on board were 80 children.
Statements of militants
" That's us ... That's not us"
The first reaction we can see at one of the most popular and known since the outbreak of hostilities in Donbas militants' page in social networks:
In the area of Torez, the plane AN-26 had just been shot down. We warned - do not fly in our sky.
And here is the video confirmation of the crash. Also, there is information about the second downed plane, like Su.
Initially, it was a question of the "military transport aircraft AN-26". Information was instantly picked up by the Russian media. In particular, the by propagandist channel LifeNews (the story was later removed, but was spread over the Internet).
The Russian TASS site still has news about "AN shot down in the Torez region." Later they realized it was not AN. And the tone changed dramatically.
"If it really is a passenger liner, it wasn’t we who did it," RIA Novosti quoted Alexander Boroday, then prime minister of the DNR.
He also assured that the militants "do not have weapons with which you could shoot down the MH17", hinting at the height on which Boeing was flying (10 km).
Later, the militants adhered to the version that they had no weapons capable of knocking down such a target. Plus - diligently repeated the Russian version of who and how shot down the MH17.
Statements of Russia
"Here you have million versions, choose what you like"
Russia began to massively "load" the information space with the versions of what happened. Over the years, there have been more than enough. In all of them, accusations were made against Ukraine.
So, an approximate chronology of the Russian versions of the one who shot down the MH-17:
- Ukrainian Su-25 attacked aircraft.
- Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile division did it.
- The plane was shot down from the Ukrainian Buk M-1.
- An air-to-air missile (even allegedly satellite images were demonstrated).
- Again the Buk missile defense system.
- Again, the Su-25.
And so on. As the "evidence" were quoted the words of the "Spanish dispatcher Carlos", who years later admitted that he received money from Russia, "the secret witness Agapov," telling the story that MH17 was shot down by "captain Voloshin," presentations were made and photos allegedly " from the site" were found.
Let’s look at one case closer.
In November 2014, the Russian First Channel showed a "sensational snapshot. It allegedly captured the attack of a Ukrainian military aircraft on Boeing. Here is this picture:
This picture was refuted by experts, calling it a photomontage. Interestingly, it was pointed out that Boeing should have a length of about 4.5 km on the corresponding photograph.
In September 2016, Russia officially refused the version of the "Ukrainian aircraft attack" and acknowledged that the reason for the crash of the MH17 flight was a missile fired from the Buk missile defense system. But Moscow continued to assert that the Buk was Ukrainian.
Statements of Ukraine
Briefly, "this is a terrorist attack, MH17 was shot down by militants." This position has not changed in four years. At the same time, Ukraine initially declared its readiness to help the investigation and provide all the necessary data.
Now, in fact, about the investigation.
To investigate the tragedy, an International Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was created, which included prosecutors and representatives of other law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Malaysia, as well as Eurojust representatives.
According to them, MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched from a self-propelled fire unit BUK-TELAR from an agricultural field near the village of Pervomaiske. At that time, the region was under the control of pro-Russian separatists.
It follows from the investigation that the self-propelled fire unit BUK-TELAR was delivered to Ukraine from the Russian Federation and after it was used to attack the MH17 airliner, it was again returned to the territory of the Russian Federation.
In May 2018, investigators from the Netherlands found yet another confirmation that the plane of the MH17 flight was shot down from the Russian Buk, in particular, by setting a number of unique characteristics of the Buk missiles.
First Deputy Prosecutor General Dmytro Storozhuk said that the joint investigation team managed to establish that the Buk was in service in the Russian Armed Forces, in particular, it belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade from the city of Kursk.
In the transportation of Buk, according to the investigation, was engaged a retired officer of the Main Intelligence Agency of the Russian Federation Sergey Dubinsky.
According to Bellingcat and The Insider, another Intelligence officer Oleg Ivannikov also took part in the transportation.
They called a key figure in the case of a shot down Boeing, namely Colonel-General and Chief Inspector of the Central Military District of Russia Nikolay Tkachev.
As a result, at the moment the Netherlands and Australia have officially accused Russia of the crash of the MH17 flight, although the investigation is still ongoing.
In parallel with this
- Relatives of the victims held a rally at the Russian embassy in The Hague.
- A number of relatives appealed to the Russians with the words "We are tired of hating you".
- According to the decision of the US court, ex-leader of militants Igor Girkin must pay $ 400 million in compensation to the relatives of the victims of MH17. He himself said that he did not care about the court's decision.
The work of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) continues. G7 calls on Russia to cooperate. Russia in turn, does not recognize JIT's conclusions about the Buk.
The Verkhovna Rada ratified the agreement with the Netherlands on cooperation concerning crimes related to downed MH17.
Thus, the Netherlands has the right to prosecute the persons involved in the MH17 crash, and for this Ukraine can transfer criminal proceedings, including at the request of the Netherlands.
The agreement regulates the issues of transferring the execution of punishments to Ukraine, including, on the basis of sentences pronounced in absentia, the possibility of applying measures to the convicted persons prior to the decision to enforce the sentence.
If Ukraine cannot extradite the accused to the Netherlands, it can take part in the case in the Netherlands in video conference mode.
But it seems that there’s a long time to wait for specific court sentences.