Will MH17 be our 9/11? (16) The final report of the Joint Investigation Team

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has now published its final report concerning the downing of flight MH17, or rather, the report on which a criminal prosecution can be based (the investigation continues). At the press conference, questions were permitted, in contrast to the presentation of the report of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). Joost Niemöller, the author of MH17-De Doofpotaffaire, still an indispensable reference on the issue, asked who actually had supplied the tapes with the telephone intercepts on which the 'irrefutable evidence' was based? 

The reply was, the Ukrainian intelligence agency, SBU.

After all there are no radar or satellite date, no conversations between air traffic control and the plane, no interviews with pilots of airliners in the vicinity, and so on and so forth, so everything depends on these phone taps. However, a court case that would be based on them hardly offers the prospect of a conviction.

In his book, McMafia. Seriously Organised Crime, Misha Glenny calls the Ukrainian SBU a criminal organisation that 'provided the superglue welding the state apparatus and the oligarchy into a single whole' (I paraphrase). After the seizure of power of 20-22 February 2014 Valentyn Nalivaychenko was again appointed as head of the SBU (he had been fired by Yanukovych) and he was still in office when MH17 was shot down. Nalivaychenko had started his career as a diplomat but was thrown out after having been caught smuggling art and antiquities, a hobby he shared with several of his colleagues and which among other feats, brought a collection of Dutch old masters into the possession of Ukraine.

Back to the JIT investigation. It is well-known that the regime in Kiev demanded a right of veto both in the technical investigation by the Dutch Safety Board and in the criminal investigation. Nothing can be disseminated to the public without the consent of all parties, read: Kiev's permission.

The Ukrainian press agency UNIAN in a comment of 10 August 2014 declated that this boils down to an admission of guilt by Ukraine, because why otherwise would it demand a veto except for preventing information inculpating Kiev from becoming public?

The DSB Report was still to a considerable degree based on an investigation that was conducted under Dutch direction. OK, hardly any Dutch investigators had been searching the actual disaster zone and the conclusion that the plane had been downed by a Buk SA-11 missile was based on three (3) particles of which one could maintain they had the specific form of those in the missile's warhead, viz., a bow-tie, or butterfly form. The producer of the Buk, Almaz-Antey, had demonstrated in trials that a Buk explosion close to the cockpit causes some fifteen hundred (1500) impact holes of indisputably butterfly shape, and many came out on the other side of the cockpit (not one in the case of MH17).

However, the direction of the criminal investigation that also had been delegated to the Netherlands in 2014, meanwhile was very much back in the hands of the SBU. Had they then changed their ways? In May of this year a team of inspectors of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture toured a series of SBU-controlled sites in Ukraine suspected of holding prisoners subjected to inhuman treatment. Since access was denied, it was decided to cut short the tour and report back to the UN. After their return, a spokesman for the SBU declared that the CIA would not have admitted anyone to suspect sites either, so why would they!

One month later the Dutch investigators on the JIT in an intermediate report to the next of kin nevertheless mused about how very closely and pleasantly they worked with the SBU.

So how did the collaboration work out? Dutch and Australian investigators, we learn, go through endless tapped phone conversations with their colleagues of the SBU (in Russian or Ukrainian, one would assume). Sometimes these ‘turn out to be fake’ (hear, hear!) but on the whole, ‘after intensive investigation, …[they] seem to be very sound, which contribute[s] to the mutual trust’. It is only a cramped building, there in Kiev, we read in the report, but Ukrainian, Australian and Dutch investigating officers are bound together by each other’s 'love of police work'.

And so we babble on a bit more. A small detail: Dutch and Australians had to be frequently rotated because Kiev is meanwhile a hotbed of prostitution of all kinds and there was concern that investigators might be led, in their love of police work, into situations that might expose them to blackmail.

So much for the SBU that supplied the telephone conversations on which, as it now turns out in the final report, the entire case rests. Sometimes these ‘turn out to be fake’. Shouldn't that, taking into account the credentials of the supplier, have been enough to invalidate the entire body of evidence? But no, the media rapturously applaud the 'irrefutable evidence'. To be continued.

Kees van der Pijl

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