Immediately after the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014 the Australian Federal Police (AFP) responded to this tragedy and is still involved. The AFP continues to work on this investigation. At the moment there are six AFP personnel working with the Dutch team in The Netherlands. Two AFP-members are semi-permanently stationed in the Netherlands with their families. David Nelson is one of them.
Detective Superintendent David Nelson is the commander of the Australian contingent in the Netherlands and Ukraine. He has been working for the AFP for more than 26 years and has been involved in several overseas and complex missions. In November 2016, he and his wife came over to the Netherlands. David: “The AFP operates in more than 30 countries around the world to fight transnational crime. Over the past years around 500 AFP members have been deployed on this investigation. Today our contingent consists of ten investigating officers: six in the Netherlands and four in Kiev.”
What are your experiences with the Dutch?
“Very good. They are all very focused. We are here to support the Dutch in building the evidence against those who were responsible for downing MH17. I’m enjoying working with our Dutch colleagues. We really operate as one team. All of the JIT partner agencies work closely together and we operate in a very productive and inclusive manner.”
Are there any differences in the way the Australian and Dutch police operate?
“All the team members are very committed to their work, both Dutch and Australian. These men and women only have one mission: to find the truth and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. So in our drive there is no difference. What is different though, is the method of the public prosecutors. In the Netherlands, the public prosecutors have a bigger role in the day-to-day criminal investigation. In Australia the police investigators operate more independently. I regularly liaise with the Dutch prosecutors to update them on the progress and to discuss strategies.”
Are you satisfied with the progress made so far?
“We are facing challenges, but I’m very happy with what we have achieved so far - and we will continue. We are all very focused on seeking justice for those who perished on board. As JIT partners, we all have a collective resolve and strength to continually achieve and progress the investigation.”
The AFP cooperates with other Australian Government departments domestically and abroad to ensure a whole-of-government approach to fighting crime at its source.
The AFP has deployed members from forensics, investigations and other specialised areas to the MH17 investigation. These members assisted with the Australian Government's priorities to identify and repatriate remains and assist with the independent international investigation where required.