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Dutch government refuses to unseal MH17 documents

August 13, 2015, 9:37 UTC+3 THE HAGUE

Dutch Justice Minister acknowledges that the disaster indeed has a big impact on people's lives, but secrecy is more important

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Boeing MH17 debris

Boeing MH17 debris

© ITAR-TASS/Konstantin Sazonchik

THE HAGUE, August 13. /TASS/. The Dutch government has refused to unseal documents regarding last year’s MH17 airliner crash in Ukraine, Dutch broadcaster RTL said on Wednesday evening.

The broadcaster earlier filed an appeal to Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur, asking him to disclose as much information as possible because of the massive impact the crash had on Dutch society.

In his response, Van der Steur acknowledged that the disaster did indeed have a big impact on people's lives, but that secrecy was more important, according to RTL.

In April, the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and Security released hundreds of documents related to the MH17 disaster after news agencies NOS, RTL and Volkskrant appealed to the country's Freedom of Information Act. A total of 575 documents mostly consisted of emails exchanged within the National Crisis Core Team after the crash. Parts of the documents were blacked out to protect the privacy of people who appear in the documents and to allow officials to have an "unfettered exchange of arguments".

Media organizations requested that all decisions from the ministerial crisis team reports be made public, so that the government’s actions could be reconstructed. Van der Steur rejected the request, explaining that the decisions were "interwoven" with the opinions of officials and politicians. "For this reason the disclosure of factual information must also be refused," the Dutch minister said.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on July 17, some 60 kilometers (around 37 miles) from the Russian border in the zone of combat operations between Donetsk self-defense forces and the Ukrainian army. All 298 passengers and crew on board perished, the Netherlands reporting nearly 200 victims, the highest death toll in the disaster.

The Netherlands is leading two international investigations into the report: an air safety accident resort led by the Dutch Safety Board, which will examine the technical causes of the crash, and a criminal investigation examining who was responsible.

In early September, the Dutch Safety Board said in its preliminary report that the MH17 flight broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside. A surface-to-air or air-to-air missile that allegedly hit the plane is considered the biggest factor behind the crash.

Kiev authorities and militia forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have blamed each other for the shooting down of the plane.

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