MH17 families call on PM Rutte to "get to the bottom" of attack

MH17 wreckage - Dutch Safety Board report (Photo: NL Times/Zachary Newmark). (MH17 wreckage - Dutch Safety Board report (Photo: NL Times/Zachary Newmark))

A group of 18 families, frustrated by the Netherlands’ slow pace at investigating the crash of flight MH17, are calling on Prime Minister Mark Rutte to pressure Russia, Ukraine, and the United States into releasing raw radar images taken on the day of the crash. They are angered that Russia vetoed a proposal last July to try suspects in the MH17 explosion at the International Criminal Court, and that it will still take another six months before the Netherlands decides how to proceed with a prosecution, if any is to take place.

“Our question to you is, why are all these things taking so long, and why is there not more pressure applied to get to the bottom [of the case],” the families write in the letter, as published by RTL Nieuws. “Are you not of our position that the patience of all surviving family members are being so strongly tested?”

The families are especially angered at the apparent lack of influence the prime minister and the Dutch Safety Board have on Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. The three countries have not delivered any such images, despite their obligation to do so, the families claim.

“We believe that these radar images are extremely important for the investigation, and the truth,” the letter states. They find the Ukraine government’s excuse that civilian radar was unavailable that day as being implausible. They also find Russia’s claim that data related to the crash was not stored as “strange,” and unlikely.

They also cite a quote from US Secretary of State John Kerry as reason to believe the United States had images that could help investigators. “We saw the take-off. We saw the trajectory, we saw the hit. We saw this airplane disappear from the radar screens. So there is really no mystery about where it came from and where these weapons have come from.”

Kerry made his remarks on August 12, 2014, during the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, less than one month after the crash.

“We can not therefore accept that crucial information and data be withheld,” the letter states. “If we wait until the criminal investigation is completed, we fear that it is too late to claim this essential information in accordance with [International Civil Aviation Organization] rules,” the families say.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 left Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A Dutch Safety Board investigation concluded it was shot down with a Russian-made Buk 9M38M1 surface-to-air missile. The final report would not point fingers at either the Ukrainian army, Russian military, or Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists, and the report did not pinpoint the location from where the missile was fired, calling on criminal investigators to take on that responsibility.

All 283 passengers on the aircraft, and the 15 crew members, died in the incident. Of the victims, 193 were Dutch citizens.