On 17 July 2014 MH 17, a Malaysian airlines flight en route from Amsterdam in The Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia was shot down while in transit over Ukrainian airspace.
Although there were no admissions as to culpability and at least initially very little factual data available, it did not stop an immediate blame game being promoted by the Dutch, Ukrainian and Australian governments. The Netherlands (189 citizens on board) and Australia (27 citizens plus some non-citizen residents), were together with the Malaysians (44 citizens) the countries to suffer the greatest losses.
An inquiry group was immediately set up. This was the first clue that the investigation was not destined simply to establish what had happened, but had wider geo political motives. The inquiry group consisted of the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium. The last named country lost only one citizen. In the absence of any plausible reason for including that country, the fact that it serves as NATO headquarters in what was turning out to be a major anti-Russian exercise is the probable reason for their inclusion.
The inclusion of Ukraine was even less understandable. As the country over which the disaster occurred it was an obvious candidate for the suspect list of being responsible for what was manifestly not an accident but a deliberate destruction of a civilian airliner, and hence the murder of all those on board.
That this was not going to be an honest and objective inquiry into the shooting down of MH 17 was reinforced by the fact that the four original nations signed a secret non-disclosure agreement, the key component of which for present purposes was that there would be no public announcements unless all four nations unanimously agreed. This must be the first time in recorded history where a potential prime suspect is given a veto over the investigation.
The other factor that raised suspicion among independent analysts was that the existence of this agreement was not widely publicised. To this author’s knowledge, it has never been publicised in the Australian mainstream media.
The Malaysians, whose plane it was, refused to sign that agreement. They were initially excluded from the official inquiry, although as we now know, they instigated their own investigation. This included, inter alia, sending a team to the Ukraine where they were able to recover the plane’s “black box”, which they retained for analysis despite attempts by the British to recover the boxes before the Malaysians had completed their investigation.
One other factor that proved to be of crucial importance was the claim by John Kerry, the then United States Secretary of State, that the Americans knew what had happened because their satellites, in stationary orbit over what was a war zone involving Ukrainian government and Dombas region Russian speaking objectors to the fascist coup that had earlier that year, with United States assistance, overthrown the elected Ukrainian government. The wider geopolitics are crucial to an understanding of the tragedy and its sequelae.
More than five years after the shooting down of MH 17 a trial finally commenced in the Netherlands, with four accused: three Russian and one Ukrainian citizen. No doubt to the surprise of the Dutch prosecutors, one of the accused, the Russian Oleg Pulatov was legally represented at the trial.
There were other unpleasant surprises waiting for the Dutch prosecution team, whose jurisdiction to actually prosecute the crime is, to say the least, extremely dubious. The trial commenced earlier this month (March 2020) and after two days of hearings has been adjourned to 8th June 2020.
The presiding Dutch judge (of a judicial panel of three) has given the prosecution team a very unpleasant surprise. He has made an order that the prosecution provide the photographs from the American spy satellites, whose existence had been alleged by Mr Kerry, as well as Dutch politicians, to have photographed the whole incident.
These photographs are crucial, assuming they exist and there is no reason to doubt your existence. There is very good reason to believe that the Russians have identical photographs from their satellites, similarly in orbit over the war zone. The Russians however, have chosen not to publicise that fact.
Before looking at further relevant evidence one can draw a preliminary conclusion about the photographs. If they in fact showed MH 17 being shot down not only by a Russian missile fired by a Russian or Russian armed team, it would be a devastating rebuttal of both separatist and Russian denials that they were in any way responsible for the tragedy.
Instead of producing what could be compelling evidence of culpability, for nearly 6 years the unsubstantiated claim that there was photographic evidence of what happened, and by implication proving Russian and/or separatist responsibility has been allowed to fester in the western media without this crucial photographic evidence actually being produced.
By far the most plausible explanation for the withholding of the photographic evidence is that it does not support the long running Western claim that Russia or Russian supported separatists were responsible.
Support for this proposition comes from another source, independent of both the Russians and the Ukrainian separatists. First, contrary to the claim made by Dutch parliamentarians, a Dutch military intelligence report dated 21 September 2016 stated that the Dutch government had received no satellite imagery from the Americans. That this statement is completely contradictory of the official version tirelessly promoted by the Dutch, Ukrainian and Australian governments, adds to its authenticity.
The Dutch intelligence services however, deserve further credit for honesty. Two reports were prepared by the Dutch military intelligence chief Major-General Onno Eickelsheim and released on the same day. The reason the contents of the General’s reports have not been publicised in the western media is that they directly contradict the western propaganda narrative.
According to the reports, the details of which can be read on the Australian (but Moscow resident) investigative journalist John Helmer’s website (Dances With Bears) Eickelsheim reported that no Russian BUK missiles had been fired on or anywhere near that vicinity. This is directly contrary to the propaganda promoted by the British disinformation agent who writes under the nom de plume “Bellingcat”, and whose misinformation is faithfully quoted at regular intervals in the western mainstream media. It is significant that Eickelsheim’s report has never seen the light of day in the western media.
That evidence is yet to be presented at the trial of the four accused. It is a fairly safe bet that it will be used by the defence. When, as one suspects, the prosecution is unable to comply with the Judge’s order to produce the alleged photographic evidence of a BUK missile shooting down MH 17, or more particularly, a Russian BUK missile, and the devastating evidence of General Eickelsheim is also presented, it is very difficult to see how the prosecution can be maintained.
There are multiple victims of this tragedy. They are not only the unfortunate passengers and crew on MH 17, and their families who have endured lies and deception from governments who had evidence of a radically different sequence of events, but also through silence and falsehoods, where those governments sought to maintain a damaging and untrue narrative.
It is probably a vain hope, but those families, the separatists and the Russian government, deserve a profound apology for the years of sustained deceit and lying.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.