A number of families sent a letter to the European Union, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, requesting EU to put pressure on Ukraine, Russian Federation and US to hand over radar recordings, satellite images and other evidence.
The families understand the Dutch government cannot act on itself as it should not interfere into the criminal investigation. Any interfere would be abused by Russia in a courtcase to claim the court is not independent.
As EU is not in any way related to the criminal investigation lead by the Dutch prosecutor, EU can pressure the three states without hurting the future court case.
The families request more visible political pressure from EU. Pressure should be increased as well.
Thomas Schansman is the father Quinn Schansman (18) who died in the crash. Schansman told on Dutch Radio 1 the reason why this letter was sent.
Not all relatives agree with the letter. Robbert van Heiningen , who lost his younger brother, his sister in law and his nephew , told in EenVandaag that he did not sign the letter. His objection is that it is about the quality of the objections and not the quantity. He states it is better to wait for September 28. Van Heiningen is afraid the public is getting tired with MH17. He states attention is reduced now. Even the financing of a monument was difficult. He does not have high expectations on the meeting at September 28.
Dutch TV EenVandaag had an item about the letter.
Below the complete letter.
Mrs. F. Mogherini
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Vice President of the European Commission
Rue de la Roi 200
1049 Brussels, Belgium
The Netherlands, Rotterdam – Hilversum, August 29th 2016
Your Excellency, dear High Representative Mogherini,
We are writing you on behalf of a group of families of the victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17t h 2014 in the Ukraine. In this brutal violation of international law, 298 innocent people were killed; 211 of them were from four different EUcountries. Until today, more than two years after the downing of MH17, no one has taken responsibility for this crime.
The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) published its final report on the crash of MH17 in October 2015. Now, the Dutch public prosecutor’s office is working on the criminal investigation after the causes of the downing of the MH17 in cooperation with an international Joint Investigation Team (JIT). For us, as concerned families, it is very important that the perpetrators will face justice. For civilised societies in general, it is just as important to combat impunity and to reaffirm the universality of international law and resolution 2166 of the Security Council of the United Nations. According to this resolution and according ICAO rules, all countries are obliged to provide any requested and unrequested assistance and cooperate fully with the investigations.
You may be informed, that for undisputable insight into what happened with the MH17, raw primary radar data from air traffic control or other systems are paramount. Experts have stated that these data may disclose, irrefutably, the launch location and trajectory of the missile, as well as all other air movements in the immediate vicinity of flight MH17. As MH17 at the time of the crash was monitored by both Ukraine and the Russian Federation (Russia), both countries should have been collecting and recording raw primary radar data.
Similar importance for finding the truth about MH17 is held by (radar and satellite) imagery the US have collected, regarding to which we would like to quote Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the US Department of State, three days following the shoot down of flight MH17; “ We saw the takeoff. We saw the trajectory, we saw the hit. We saw this aeroplane disappear from the radar screens. So there is really no mystery about where it came from and wher e these weapons have come from”.
Regarding disclosure and handing over the data to the investigating authorities we feel the level of cooperation displayed by these countries does not live up to their obligations under the rules of the ICAO convention for crash investigation, the UNSC resolution 2166, nor your own public calls in this regard.
As there are some important differences regarding the extent of this noncompliance by the three countries, we would like to point out the following:
1. Ukraine initially stated that their radar systems were down for maintenance; therefore no primary radar data were acquired. In an official hearing of the Dutch Parliament in January 2016, radar and ATC experts considered it very unlikely that all (three available) primary radar systems were down due to maintenance. Later on, Ukraine changed its position claiming their radar infrastructure was destroyed or damaged. Although the latter version may be true, and although Ukraine states that within the framework of the JIT they have contributed all radar data they have, Ukraine has not revoked its earlier explanation. Both versions cannot be true at the same time;
2. The Russian Federation has confirmed that it did have (raw) primary radar data, but that they were erased from their systems. Russia claimed their interpretation of ICAO rules did not require them to retain them. ICAO has later indicated this interpretation was wrong. Even then, full cooperation with the inquiry would leave no room for destroying obvious important evidence. At the time of destruction, no one was unaware of the data’s importance. This also makes the Russian claim that these data do not exist anymore very untrustworthy;
3. Secretary of State John Kerry of the US has publicly declared that the US saw everything on their radar, but has not publicly disclosed it. DSB members have stated that they had access to (part of) it, but since (as far as we know) the evidence is not public or declassified its value cannot be evaluated, nor can it be used in court.
Furthermore, considering the fact that the attack on MH17 took place in an active war zone, the area will have had maximum intelligence coverage, notably from space. None of these countries has come forward with any relevant data though. This lack of transparency should also be considered to be at odds with UN and EUdemands for full cooperation.
In January 2016, as concerned families, we have asked President Putin of Russia, President Porosjenko of the Ukraine and Secretary of State of the US John Kerry, to disclose and hand over all relevant data, especially raw primary radar data. As far as we know, none of them have complied with this request.
In our contacts with Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands, we have asked him to do his utmost to get the primary radar data from the countries involved. We informed him that in our view, after two years of twisting and prevarication, the pressure on Russia and the Ukraine should be increased and should be more powerful. Prime Minister Rutte has made clear though, that the Dutch government in no way wants to interfere with the ongoing independent criminal investigation under the responsibility of Dutch public prosecutor’s office.
However, as concerned families we believe that meddling with the actual criminal investigation and making sure that all (international) parties fully cooperate are two different things. Moreover, the attack on the MH17 took place in a war. The murder of 298 civilians from noninvolved nations is both a war crime and a violation of international and humanitarian law. This means that the attack on the MH17 is not only a criminal affair but also inherently a political affair. So, political involvement and
pressure regarding cooperation should not be confused with violating of the independency of the criminal investigation. They are a direct consequence of political statements made by the UNSC and the EU, amongst others. If these statements have no consequences, they have no significance and are, indeed, worthless.
Yet, we understand that the Dutch government’s position is precarious. Moreover the international leverage of the Dutch government alone is limited. This very fact was fundamental to joining efforts within the EU and indeed to creating your post as High representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Therefore we think, that the political power of the EU – within the international political relations – is essential in bringing the issue of the MH17 to a solution.
Therefore we ask you as Representative Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union – specifically to put pressure on the US and other relevant countries to disclose all relevant intelligence data, especially the data Mr. Kerry has referred to. We also ask you to put pressure on Ukraine in your next meeting to come clear with an unequivocal explanation on missing raw primary radar data and to hand over any relevant data they may have ‘overseen’. More urgently we ask you to call on Russia to come forward with socalled destroyed raw primary radar data.
Furthermore we ask you as Representative Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union to make the solution of the MH17 issue part of the discussions and negotiations that you have with the countries that are directly involved. We find it strange, and this should be noted, that in the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council MH17 is hardly ever referred to.
Dear Mrs. Mogherini, we strongly appeal to you to help us to get the irrefutable truth about the attack on the MH17 so that the perpetrators and those responsible cannot escape their rightful punishment. We call upon you to show and exert the power the EU has, in support of justice and international law and as a matter of respect to 298 innocent and totally defenseless civilians, most of them EU citizens.
We are very much looking forward to your support and we would like to thank you for your cooperation.
13 Dutch families, 5 British families, 1 Portugese, 1 German, 1 Swiss and 1 Canadian family