Russian, Ukrainian authorities making MH17 investigation "difficult": Prosecutors
The investigation into the MH17 disaster is in a difficult phase and far from over, the Public Prosecutor wrote in a digital magazine meant to keep the victims' relatives informed about what is happening in the MH17 file. The investigators are having trouble getting data from the Ukrainian secret service and cooperation with Russia remains difficult, the Prosecutor wrote on Monday, RTL Nieuws reports.
The investigation is now in its "most difficult phase", the Prosecutor wrote. "Booking progress at this stage is much more difficult."
One problem is that not enough witnesses responded to a call to report in December. The call was made in the Ukraine and potential witnesses were offered lowered sentences if they came forward. There were reactions, "but not enough", according to the magazine.
The investigators are also still going trough a massive amount of phone data. "This will still take much time and capacity in the coming months. It involves millions of historical print data and thousands of recorded phone calls." On this front the investigation team is also in the midst of a "complex legal procedure" with the Ukraine. The Ukrainian secret service recorded many phone calls and collected a large amount of phone data in the days running up to the MH17 disaster. But the data is covered by Ukrainian state security and is not part of the MH17 investigation. Some of that data is released in the legal procedure. This means that investigators are still receiving new information, almost three years after the disaster.
Cooperation with Russia is also troublesome, the Prosecutor wrote. In October 2014 the Prosecutor requested radar images from Russia. Two years later the Russians handed over a file. But the radar images were on Russian software and no manual was included. "A lot of time was lost" translating the software and learning how ot use it, according to the Prosecutor. Another legal request was submitted to Russia asking that the radar images be handed over in a standard format. The Prosecutor also submitted a request to Russia for data from another radar station, but no response was received yet,
Finally the Prosecutor revealed that the investigation team received a mysterious email for someone calling himself "Volf" in February of this year. Volf wrote that the Dutch investigation is not objective and that he has important information. He threatened to send a file to all relatives. "It involved some images, audio files and a 97-page 'report' in the Russian language. The report, which contained 82 photos, described alternative scenarios", according to the magazine. According to the Prosecutor, all of Volf's information has been investigated and is either already known or irrelevant. Research revealed that Volf sent his messages from a mobile network in Russia and that there are no indications that he actually approached relatives. The MH17 investigation not being objective is an accusation often heard from Russia.
On 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed. So far investigations revealed that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile system from a field controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The missile system was moved from Russia to the Ukrainian field and then back again after the passenger plane was shot down. A number of victims' relatives recently announced that they are considering suing the Ukraine for not closing its airspace while it was clearly dangerous, as the Dutch Safety Board concluded.