Arena test Finland
During the presentation to the relatives we informed you about the so-called Arena tests which were carried out in Ukraine within the framework of the forensic investigation. We showed images of a controlled detonation of a missile. The images you saw were made in July 2016 in Ukraine.
From various news items in the media you were able to learn that Finland also contributed to the forensic investigation. That contribution implied that forensic experts from Finland and the Netherlands had already performed an Arena test in Finland. Initially, Finland only wanted to share the investigation results with the Netherlands, and had not given permission to share this information with the JIT. We were not able to mention the Finnish contribution to the investigation during the meeting with the relatives. The Finnish authorities have subsequently given permission to share the investigation results with the JIT. The results have been transferred to the Netherlands and contribute to the evidentiary value of the forensic investigation.
Call for witnesses
On 28 September 2016, the JIT sent out a call for witnesses to report themselves. The JIT is specifically looking for insider witnesses and/or eye witnesses who are able to testify about the role of different persons involved in the shooting down of MH17. In addition, the JIT published a number of wire tapped telephone conversations, in combination with the request for information about the persons with the alias Orion and the alias Delfin.
On 14 December a press conference was held in Kiev. The Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General, Mr. Storozhuk, gave a short update about the investigation and made a call for witnesses who might have information about the crash to report to the JIT. He indicated that the JIT offers opportunities for witness protection and security and that the Ukrainian legal system offers possibilities for reduced sentences for those who cooperate in the investigation.
Those calls did yield reactions, but these are still insufficient. Witnesses are being interviewed. Therefore the JIT is operating at full force to continue to search for relevant witnesses. But as mentioned before, the investigation team is obstructed by the situation in eastern Ukraine. They still cannot access the area and actively approach witnesses.
As the conflict in eastern Ukraine has been going on for quite some time, and the situation there is still difficult and dangerous, it is not inconceivable that ‘penitent’ offenders decide to assist the authorities and report to the JIT.
Request for information
The JIT will keep on searching for new relevant information and (insider) witnesses. It will still be possible to share information on the website of the JIT (www.jitmh17.com) and to contact the investigation team by email or by telephone. All information received through these channels by the JIT will be examined.
The investigation team is still receiving new, relevant telecom data. These concern both intercepted telephone calls and historical print data (CCR’s) - which number is in contact with which number at what time. All this information is being investigated thoroughly. On the one hand to find out whether there are conversations that are relevant for the fact finding, in particular to see if there are conversations that make clear who is responsible for the downing of MH17. On the other hand to find out whether these conversations and print lists contain information that could locate persons who are involved. That will take a lot of time and capacity in the coming months, because this concerns millions of historical print data and thousands of intercepted telephone conversations.
These telephone conversations were mostly intercepted by the SBU during the beginning and further course of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, with the permission of a Ukrainian judge, and thus before 17 July 2014. They were intercepted in the interest of state security and the fight against terrorism. These are other procedures than the criminal investigation into the downing of MH17. In the MH17 criminal investigation telephone calls have been intercepted as well. After a certain legal procedure, these conversations can rather easily be shared within the JIT. However, the legal procedure for sharing intercepted conversations that have not been intercepted within the framework of the MH17 criminal investigation is far more complex and time consuming.
The same applies to the requested historical print data. Unfortunately, it is legally not permitted for the Ukrainian authorities to share all their telecom data with the JIT. A complex legal procedure needs to be followed in order to be able to do so. This explains why, to date, the investigation team is still receiving (for the JIT: new) intercepted telephone conversations and historical print data.
Research on Social Media will be continued in full and it still produces results. New and interesting material is still being found on the internet.