Russian Federation handed over in August 2017 additional radar data to the criminal investigation team. Russia initially in October 2016 handed over radar data in a non-common format. Dutch Public Prosecution Service at August 24 2017 made public Russia in August handed over the data in ASTERIX format. Russia also handed over manuals.
Dutch news NOS not for the first time reported incorrect information about this news.
NOS writes at August 24 in an online article:
Nederland kreeg uit Moskou al eerder radargegevens van 17 juli 2014, de dag dat vlucht MH17 van Malaysia Airlines boven Oost-Oekraïne door een raket werd neergehaald. Het internationale Joint Investigation Team (JIT), dat het misdrijf onderzoekt, kon daar niets mee, omdat computerdata in een verkeerd format waren aangeleverd.
Translated it means that the radar data handed over by Russia was not of any use/useless for the criminal investigation team.
Now lets us have a look at the reporting by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service about the same news event. In this pressrelease there is no mentioning of ‘orginal radar data was not of any use’.
Dutch Public Prosection Service made public an e-zine in May 2017. This e-zine has some more information on the received radar data which was initially not handed over in the ASTERIX format.
This software was in Russian so it had to be translated first. After this, the software had to be tested for its functionality as well as its reliability. Working on the translation and becoming familiar with the operation of the software took a lot of time.
Only after that, the data could be analysed. The data that had been handed over showed less than if the data had been submitted according to the ASTERIX-format. In other words: if the data had been submitted according to an internationally recognised standard such as ASTERIX, this would have enabled us to guarantee the integrity of the radar system including its subsystems. Internal checks could have been performed and the data could have been compared very well with data from other radar stations. It would have enabled us to gain better insight into possibly additional detection of objects which had not appeared on the radar screen of the air traffic controller, but that would have been collected by the radar system and stored in the subsystems.
The e-zine even included screenshots of the radar image. Hidden at the website were more screenshots indicating the investigation team was able to read the radar data.
So the statement by NOS ‘the radar data was useless’ is not correct.
Now lets look at other media reporting about this news event. Belgium HLN.be for example. The online edition published a story delivered by Belgium press agency Belga.
Eerder ontving het JIT al radargegevens van Moskou, maar die waren niet aangeleverd in het goede type bestand. Daardoor waren de radarbeelden onvoldoende te lezen.
Translation: Earlier JIT received radardata from Moscow, but those were not delivered in the correct type of file. As a result radarimages were could not be read sufficient.
‘Not sufficient’ is reporing according the facts.
Reason for incorrect reporting
A comment by user Slozny on this posting indicates that Dutch Prosecutor in January 2017 stated that ‘Radarimages cannot be used’. Telegraaf reported about this here as the first media.
‘MH17-radar Russen deugt niet’
27 JAN 2017 Paul Eldering
DEN HAAG – De radarbeelden van de MH17-aanslag, die Rusland uiteindelijk aan het internationale JIT-onderzoeksteam heeft verstrekt, zijn onbruikbaar.
Dat bevestigt het Nederlandse Openbaar Ministerie aan De Telegraaf. ,,Het format van de data voldoet niet aan de VN-normen. Daarom vragen we de Russen om de juiste gegevens te sturen”, aldus de woordvoerder. Luchtvaartorganisatie ICAO eist dat ook.
Telegraaf writes in quotes ‘MH17 radar Russia is not good’. And Radarimages of MH17 handed over by Russia are useless. This sentence is without quotes.
As a result of the Telegraaf article, Dutch newsagency ANP made an article. Many Dutch newspapers and online media copied the ANP article with heading ‘Russische radarbeelden MH17 onbruikbaar’. For example RTL Nieuws.
Het format waarin de beelden zijn aangeleverd, is niet goed, zegt het Openbaar Ministerie. “Het voldoet niet aan de VN-normen.” Daardoor zijn de beelden niet goed genoeg te lezen om er conclusies aan te kunnen verbinden.
Translation: The radar images are not according UN-norms’.
This is a factual incorrect statement by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service. There is no ICAO (The mentioned UN agency) which has requirements on the format of radar data.
However I do not have an indication Dutch public prosecution service stated to media that radar data was useless! For instance in this Dutch prosecutor press release dated February 16, 2017 with title ‘Onderzoek MH17: nog veel onduidelijk in radarbeelden uit Rusland’ the wording like ‘useless’ are not used at all!