THE HAGUE, November 1. /TASS/. The Dutch court may exonerate Oleg Pulatov and find three other defendants guilty of being involved in the 2014 MH17 Boeing crash in Donbass, says Eric van de Beek, a Dutch reporter and the author of a book about the 2014 tragedy.
According to the reporter, the Dutch government, mass media and representatives of Dutch relatives of the victims exerted a huge pressure on the court.
"But there’s pressure from the lawyers of Pulatov as well. If the court finds the four men guilty, Pulatov will probably appeal. The easiest way out for the court will therefore be to absolve Pulatov and to sentence the other three men. This is what I think will happen," van de Beek told TASS.
Van de Beek closely followed the court proceeding and attended all 68 court hearings within the case. In 2021, the published a book entitled "MH17: de onderste steen" ("MH17: the bottom of things"), based on over 2,000 sources, including case materials, documents, including confidential ones, readouts of debates in the Dutch parliament and interviews.
Without solid evidence
According to Van de Beek, the prosecution provided "no convincing evidence, let alone conclusive evidence that the four men who are standing trial are guilty."
In particular, a lot remains unclear around the anti-air system itself. According to Dutch military intelligence agency papers, Western intelligence agencies registered no Russian Buk systems in eastern Ukraine, he noted. And the Dutch Institute of forensics was unable to provide an unambiguous conclusion that the Buk system was a Russian one, van de Beek said, adding that only the National police attributed the system to Russia in its report.
"The lawyers have severely criticized the police investigation. Very convincingly. The Prosecution Service made no effort to counter their criticism," the reporter said, adding that even if a Russian Buk system was on the territory under the rebels’ control, there is no convincing evidence that the Boeing was downed by this particular vehicle,
"It might as well have been a Ukrainian air defense system," the reporter believes.
He also pointed out that, in 2018, the Joint Investigative Team presented fragments of the missile that probably downed the plane. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the fragments belonged to a missile, shipped to Ukrainian air defense forces in December of 1986. However, the prosecution removed them from the list of evidence, claiming that it is impossible to determine, when and how the fragments ended up in that region.
According to the JIT, the MH17 flight was downed by a missile with a 9N314M payload.
"This particular type contains 1870 bowtie particles. Only two of them were found, one in the body of the captain and another in the plane. No bowtie shaped holes were found in the skin of MH17, and this is very strange, for experiments from both JIT and Almaz-Antey have shown such holes should be visible," van de Beek said.
"The four men who are standing trial are not suspected of having ‘pushed the button’ or having ordered to shoot. They are suspected of having ordered the Telar and having facilitated the transport and security. JIT still doesn’t know who are the main perpetrators," he noted.
Questions for the relatives
It is also strange that Dutch relatives of the victims did not join the German relations, who filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights against the Ukrainian government for not closing its airspace.
"From documents I acquired I learned that the relatives were offered a no cure no pay arrangement to sue Russia. No such arrangement was offered to sue Ukraine," van de Beek said, adding that Dutch relatives were advised against suing Ukraine, because Dutch investigators are dependent on their Ukrainian colleagues in JIT to bring those who shot down MH17 to justice.