Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Crashes in Ukraine


The Living Force
Archiving another SOTT article about the Council of Europe (via RT Wed, 26 Jun 2019 17:13 UTC):

PACE confirms full restoration of Russian voting rights - Ukraine sulks, walks out --

Additional news (Dutch only):
Oproep Raad van Europa: Rusland, berecht MH17-verdachten zelf

DeepL Translator said:
Council of Europe call: Russia, try MH17 suspects yourself

27 June 2019 13:31 Restated: 27 June 2019 13:39

In the Council of Europe, pressure on Russia to cooperate in the trial of the suspects of the demolition of MH17 is being stepped up. There must be an investigation into Russia's cooperation in the criminal investigation into the disaster and, if need be, Russia must prosecute the perpetrators itself, according to a proposal put forward today.

The European Human Rights Organization wants to ensure that if the suspects of involvement in the shooting down of MH17 do not report to the court in the Netherlands, Russia will prosecute and try them itself.

This is contained in a proposal for a resolution tabled today by members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. On behalf of the Netherlands, these are members of the Lower House of Parliament; CDA member Pieter Omtzigt is one of the initiators of the proposal.

Not fully cooperated

Although the proposal does not mention Russia by name, it is the only country that is not fully cooperating in the investigation into the MH17 disaster on 17 July 2014.

The plane was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels were engaged in a fierce battle with the Ukrainian army. This killed 298 people.

No extradition

Last Wednesday, the team conducting the criminal investigation into the disaster [JIT] announced that it suspects three Russians and one Ukrainian of involvement in the shooting down of the passenger aircraft. Both countries do not extradite its citizens, so with this proposal the suspects should be tried in their own country.

In addition, the resolution proposal calls for an investigation into the cooperation of countries in investigating and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the MH17 flight crash. The investigation will cover, among other things, Russia's refusal to share radar data from during the disaster. The Dutch Safety Board, which investigated the cause of the crash of the passenger aircraft, had requested these data.

Cooperate with the investigation

The proposal again calls on states to cooperate in the criminal investigation of the disaster which is being done by the JIT investigation team. It includes Ukraine, Belgium, Malaysia and Australia as well as the Netherlands.

It is not yet certain whether the resolution will be adopted. The Presidium of the Council of Europe will decide on this, after which it will be put to the vote.

Even if this is the case, it remains very doubtful whether Russia will take any notice of the call. Four days after the MH17 disaster, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2166, which aims for states to help find those responsible. Russia has so far refused to cooperate with the JIT investigation.

Russia back after five years of absence

A salient detail: Russia itself can also vote on it. As of this week, despite protests from the families of the MH17 victims, the country has once again full voting rights. These had been taken away from them at the beginning of 2014, due to the annexation of the Crimea and their involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Translated with


The Living Force
Source: Dutch PM discussed MH17 with Putin at G20 summit

Dutch PM discussed MH17 with Putin at G20 summit

By Janene Pieters on July 1, 2019 - 10:20

Prime Minister Mark Rutte discussed the MH17 disaster with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. "I spoke to President Putin about MH17. For the Netherlands, but also for so many countries in the world, it is still an open wound. So if I have the chance to discuss it with the Russian president, I will. We talked about it and I will continue to do so on these occasions", Rutte said, RTL Nieuws reports [in Dutch].

The Dutch Prime Minister would not say exactly what he talked about with Putin. "I cannot say anything about that. The discussions must be confidential, also because of the extremely high sensitivity of the subject. It is of great importance that I seize every opportunity to speak with Russian leadership about MH17." He also would not say how Putin reacted. "I can only say what I do in this type of conversation. I can never say what the response of my conversation partner is, because of confidentiality and also because it would not be right if I spoke on behalf of my conversation partner."

(article continues with the usual mantra to recap the main facts so far)


The Living Force
Thanks Voyageur. :cool2: As the saying goes: better late than never.

It's a neat overview of how flimsy the publicly presented material of the JIT still is while they're repeatedly suggesting that there is plenty more to come when the trial finally gets underway.


The Living Force
Source: Arrest of 'possible MH17 witness' in Ukraine - - Live

Arrest of ‘possible MH17 witness’ in Ukraine

July 5, 2019

One man who may have witnessed the shooting down of the MH17 has reportedly been arrested by the Ukrainian secret service.

Citing a report on the Russian-language BBC service, the Volkskrant claims (in Dutch) that 58-year-old Vladimir Tsemach has been arrested in rebel territory.

The man is thought to have been a former military commandant of pro-Russian separatists and was reportedly captured near the place from which the aero-plane was shot down.

The Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17th July 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch people. Following an investigation by Australia, Belgian, Malaysian, Dutch and Ukrainian authorities, four Russian and Ukrainian suspects are being prosecuted in the Netherlands next March.

Similar coverage here:
Ukraine reportedly detains MH17 witness

Translation of the Volkskrant article:
DeepL Translator said:
Ukrainian Special Unit apprehends separatist commander who may have witnessed the downing of MH17

A Ukrainian special operations unit last week picked up a former military commander of the pro-Russian separatists who served in the town of Snizhne, close to where the BUK missile that shot down Flight MH17 was fired from. According to some sources, 58-year-old Vladimir Tsemach at the time was the commander of air defense and can therefore be an important witness for the investigation into the facts of the disaster.

Bert Lanting 4 July 2019, 20:27

According to the BBC's Russian-language service, members of the Ukrainian Special Unit arrested Tsemach on 27 June in his own apartment in Snizhne, during a daring operation deep into rebel territory. They then managed to smuggle him through the checkpoints of the pro-Russian separatists to the Ukrainian side of the front line. They are said to have pretended that he was paralyzed.

Tsemach has now been charged with 'forming a terrorist group or a terrorist organization'. This carries a sentence of eight to fifteen years in prison. Probably though, the authorities are particularly interested in him because he may know more about who was responsible for the shooting of the Malaysian Boeing on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 passengers.

Tsemach's daughter, Maria, told the BBC that her father was apparently arrested in broad daylight. His wife found out he was gone when she returned from work on 27 June and found traces of a fight and blood in the apartment. The next day a lawyer from Kiev told them that Tsemach had to appear before a Ukrainian court.


Maria Tsemach said she suspected that the Ukrainians had kidnapped him because in 2014 he was the commander of the air defense in Snizhne and thus possibly involved in bringing down MH17. 'They're trying to hang that Boeing around his neck.' But according to her, the Ukrainians are wrong: her father was only appointed commander of the air defense of the Slavjansk-brigade of the separatists in October. Previously, it was under the command of Igor Strelkov aka Igor Girkin, one of the four men who have recently been charged by the Public Prosecution for their part in shooting down MH17.

According to Tsemach's daughter, her father had not yet played an important role at that time, but he was an ordinary soldier who was on guard at one of the checkpoints. But according to Aleksandr Kots, a Russian journalist with good relations with the separatists, he would have been commander of the air defense at that time and he was also in Snizhne. Moreover, his military identity card shows that he was already commander of the air defense unit when he was promoted to the rank of colonel by the Ministry of Defense of the rebel republic of DNR, on 23 October 2014.


There is no doubt that JIT, the international team conducting the criminal investigation into the MH17 disaster, will be very interested in Tsemach, if indeed he held an important position in air defense at the time of the shooting down of the aircraft. If he was in Snizjne at that time as commander, it is certain that he must have known who was in charge of the BUK installation which, before the missile was fired, was shortly parked in the middle of the town. The JIT has previously indicated that witnesses may be able to obtain a reduced sentence or a new identity if they cooperate in the investigation.

Translated with


The Living Force


The Living Force
Source: Canada, Ukraine joins MH17 lawsuit against Russia

Canada, Ukraine joins MH17 lawsuit against Russia

By Janene Pieters on July 10, 2019 - 08:09

Ukraine and Canada have joined a lawsuit relatives of people killed in the MH17 disaster filed against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights, Sander de Lang, one of the lawyers representing relatives in this case, confirmed to after a report in AD (both links in Dutch).

The surviving relatives filed the complaint against Russia in 2016, holding the country liable for downing the Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. On April 4th, the European Court of Human Rights announced that it would handle the complaint.

The Dutch government already joined this lawsuit in May. Of the 298 people who were killed in the disaster, 196 were Dutch. The case could lead to compensation. Belgium said it would not participate in this case. The United Kingdom and Germany are still considering, according to

This case is separate from the criminal proceedings against four men suspected of involvement in the MH17 downing, which the Joint Investigation Team announced last month. The criminal trial against the three Russian and one Ukrainian suspects will start in The Hague in March next year.


FOTCM Member
Was looking up the point made above "Belgium said it would not participate" and got sidetracked to a June 2019 hit piece by the NYTimes. Sometimes I have to remember to read what the MSN says to ensure I'm getting the whole picture. Here, though, I digress in reproducing their opine couched as facts, and thus won't provide the whole article text. However, whoa, they fired off a whole specious volley in the first paragraph after the Headline 'Was the Downing of Flight MH17 State-Sponsored Murder?'

The article is from the backroom folks of The Editorial Board

In Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, lying — willfully, methodically, shamelessly — is the default response to any accusations of wrongdoing. Russia did not meddle in American elections. Accusations of systematic Olympic doping are malicious foreign inventions. The Novichok nerve agent killers in Salisbury, England, were there only to admire the cathedral’s spire. Russia has nothing to do with the secessionists in eastern Ukraine...
Of course, other than the specious opening few words, they are correct on the elections, doping, Novichok and the secessionists (semi correct here because the so called secessionists were just minding their business when Western powers helped light the fuse in Kiev) if you have tracked these things. Yet that was not their intention as their inverted statements are their line of force right off the bat - backed up by the paragraphs below. Their use of the words "to any accusations" sets the tone for their faithful readers (you don't need to read anything more they could be saying. Trust us).

Now, including MH17, that makes five editorial convictions and guilty pleas for the mind e.g. the Russians lie "willfully, methodically, shamelessly" on all five counts. The Editorial Board is good at crafting these things and shaping public opinion after all; it is why they get paid. :rolleyes:

The Editorial Board then leave their readers (if they get past the headline and first paragraph to the very end) with a virtue signal to all Western people who operate in "law-abiding nations" like theirs:

Moscow, of course, denies it all, and will continue to act as a victim of Western intrigue, trusting that Western governments will make noise for a time and then go back to doing business with Russia.

That must not happen. These are not some political shenanigans that Moscow stands accused of; these are murders by the Kremlin’s agents in a dirty war. An open trial is how just societies judge those who violate the rule of law, and it is a response to Moscow’s crimes and lies that should have the full and public support of all law-abiding nations.
They are just accusations, right, or did I miss something?

I'm still :knitting:a sweater while waiting for the evidence of which the The Editorial Board assures us is right in front of our faces, and then decries these are all "Moscow's crimes" and they must be guilty and charged in the court of 'law-abiding nations.' That's law-abiding nations, to repeat, in case there are any mirrors that reflect how good a job they are doing themselves.

The Editorial Board (any such Board) has a massive responsibility to maintain professional conduct with clear-lines adhering to their code of journalistic ethics (thought they had these codes). These responsibilities are so grave that to make error is to load public opinion with lies, and like bullets in a revolver these lies can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Armed with lies the public can cause quite a fuss that influences their political leaders policies, which leads next to their geopolitical footsteps. Some might say, however, that the geopolitical footsteps where already well planted and only needed orchestration, hence specific editorials are required and provided. Whatever the case, the Editorial Boards who must acknowledge their 'grave' responsibilities, if misused, can be akin to helping to light a match to a fuse that has the potential to cause catastrophic and deadly results; but they know this, they are the Editorial Board's of law-abiding nations and they must always be right? Do they sleep well is another question?

For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far away country but at you at home... In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us... Those whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power.
- John Pilger


The Living Force
Thanks again, Voyageur. I have to admit I've learned a lot more about how these propaganda machines really work by just actively following this topic from its start up until now. A welcome side effect, if I may say so. ;-D


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Maleisische nabestaanden MH17 uiten kritiek op regering
DeepL Translator said:
Malaysian relatives MH17 criticize government

July 12, 12:05 Domestic, Politics

Relatives of Malaysian victims of the MH17 disaster complain about statements made by their Prime Minister and other ministers about the investigation into the disaster. They are doing so in a statement that they have made public today.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad repeatedly questioned the conclusion [Dutch only] of the Netherlands-led international investigation team (JIT) that Russia was responsible for bringing down the aircraft, exactly five years ago this Wednesday. At least two Malaysian ministers have spoken in similar terms.

These remarks have caused consternation and sorrow, the next of kin write. The Prime Minister and ministers are not mentioned by name. "That is too sensitive', said correspondent Annemarie Kas on NPO Radio 1.

Behind the JIT

The next of kin strongly support the findings of the JIT, which also includes a representative from Malaysia. They write that it is the only institution that has worked hard for five years to find out the truth about the MH17 disaster and to identify those responsible. They are grateful to JIT for that.

Kas spoke to one of the next of kin. They are aware that the statement has been made in cautious terms. This was done because there are also relatives who work for the government and are afraid of losing their jobs. "The fact that they have given this signal is a very clear sign that they are really not happy with the government's attitude", says Kas.

The group represents the relatives of 31 of the 43 Malaysian MH17 victims. Dutch relatives also complained about the Malaysian Prime Minister's remarks last month [in Dutch]. They called the remarks "more than bizarre and disturbing" and "counterproductive in the search for the truth about the murder of 298 defenseless people".

Prime Minister Rutte responded by saying that the Malaysian Prime Minister's statements were cause for concern. He points out that these statements are also contrary to statements made by other members of the Malaysian government. But Rutte also stresses that Malaysia is a full member of the JIT and that it "in practice does all the things that are necessary".

Translated with

Source (Dutch only):
DeepL Translator said:
Survey of surviving relatives MH17: 'Trust in bringing perpetrators to justice'.

5 years after MH17
A large majority of the MH17 survivors are confident that those responsible for the crash will be convicted by the courts. They are also convinced that the blame for the disaster lies with the pro-Russian rebels or the Russian army.

Cyril Rosman 13-07-19, 03:00 Last update: 09:48

This is the result of a survey among the next of kin that TV program EenVandaag has conducted and publishes today. This Wednesday, July 17, it will be five years ago that the plane was shot out of the sky over Ukraine. Last month, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced that it has four suspects [in Dutch] in mind: three Russians and one Ukrainian. The trial starts next March.

The survey of 135 surviving relatives [in Dutch] of the deceased passengers shows that 75% of them are confident that those responsible will actually be convicted by the court. Eighty-seven per cent think it makes sense for the trial to go ahead anyway, whether or not the suspects are present.

These percentages are much higher than among Dutch citizens who did not lose any family in the disaster. Of these, 63 percent have no confidence that the perpetrators will be convicted and only 55 percent consider a trial without suspects present to be useful, according to a second public survey among the 21,000 members of the EenVandaag Opinion Panel.

'Can't be an alternative: never mind'.

"For five years now, outsiders have been saying to me that those people are never going to turn up at a trial after all, and that Russia is never going to cooperate anyway. But come on, the alternative can't be that we say: annoying that it happened, but let's not worry about it. Of course not", answers one of the next of kin in the questionnaire.

The chance of a trial in absentia is high, Russia does not hand over any subjects. The suspect who was Minister of Defense with the pro-Russian rebels in 2014, Igor Girkin, regularly appears in public in Moscow. He says today in this newspaper [see below] that the pro-Russian rebels are not responsible for bringing down the plane.

The survey also shows that almost ninety percent of the next of kin questioned, assume that the blame lies with the separatists (43 percent) or with the Russian army (44 percent). None of the next of kin thinks that the Ukrainian army is guilty of firing the BUK, but ten percent say that there is 'still not enough clarity' to answer the question of guilt.

In the same survey, filled in by the EenVandaag opinion panel in which there are no relatives of the disaster, 23% think that there is still insufficient clarity, 4% of those questioned put the blame on the Ukrainian army. Both the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir [in Dutch] and Forum for Democracy leader Thierry Baudet recently questioned JIT's investigation. They also (indirectly) point to Ukraine as a possible culprit.

'Pain lies hidden in everyday things.'

The survey also shows that for the next of kin, the pain is still hidden in everyday things each day. For it may be five years since their loved ones were killed, but if the great sorrow would already be on the wane, it can take possession of them again at any moment. Suddenly generated by a sound or an image.

"The ticking of a flagpole still triggers", one of the next of kin writes in the survey. For him, the sound is inextricably linked to the day that the bodies of the victims returned to the Netherlands and were driven in a long, long funeral procession from Eindhoven airport to the barracks in Hilversum.

"Hearing the tune of the NOS is still difficult for me", writes another. It is the tune that preceded all those journals in which the news about the 298 victims was reported. "Then I'm still thinking of MH17." Yet another couldn't look at the air for a long time. "I was afraid that I would see planes, for then pictures came up that I saw people and luggage falling."

A 7.9 for the Cabinet, an 8.5 for the JIT.

The questionnaire also shows that the next of kin greatly appreciate the investigation into the facts of the crash by the JIT in which the Dutch Public Prosecution Service plays a leading role. 95 percent think that the JIT has done well or very well in the past five years, they give the team an 8.5. The Dutch Cabinet has been awarded a 7.9 for its position over the past five years. Of those questioned, 70% also think that Prime Minister Rutte for the time being has done enough 'to get to the bottom of things', as he promised immediately after the crash.

In recent years, the JIT researchers have repeatedly updated the next of kin on the state of the investigation: this happened when it was clear to the researchers that it had been a BUK of the Russian army that had hit MH17. There was contact last month when JIT announced the names of four suspects. Every time there was such an important moment, the family members were informed at a private meeting in the morning, and only afterwards there was a press conference.

This is a better assessment than the JIT gets from the less involved Dutchman. EenVandaag also submitted the same questions to its own opinion panel. Of these, 58 percent think that the JIT has done well or very well.

Translated with

Source (Dutch only):
(ten illustrations omitted)
DeepL Translator said:
MH17 suspect Igor Girkin has been walking around freely for years.

5 years after MH17
In Moscow he just walks down the street and is accosted by women who worship him. At the same time he is considered the most important suspect in the MH17 trial: former rebel leader Igor 'Strelkov' Girkin (48). This newspaper searched for the eccentric war fanatic and found him in Moscow.

Joost Bosman and Koen Voskuil < 13-07-19, 06:00 Last update: 09:45

On Wednesday evening 3 July, Suvorov'skaya Square in Moscow is filled with left-wing nationalists, monarchists, Russian Orthodox and national bolsheviks. The peculiar group is demonstrating against plans for a large garbage dump outside the city.

While several speakers point out the garbage issue, a number of women in the audience have an eye for someone else. He has bright blue eyes and a thin mustache. He wears jeans and a light blue shirt, brown suede shoes and carries a leather shoulder bag. There is no doubt about it: right in front of the stage is the main suspect in the MH17 trial, Igor 'Strelkov' Girkin. Through the Russian social medium VKontakte, he has called on people to come to the square to fight against the dumpsite. His fans are very excited when their war hero from the Crimea and the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk (DNR) in Eastern Ukraine appears among the public. He is immediately surrounded by middle-aged women.

Woman: "I love you and adore you. Give me your phone number!" Girkin: "Ho, ho. Give me your number." Woman: "Fantastic, you handsome! We keep fighting. I support Donetsk." Girkin: "So do I, madam. But there's nothing more I can do there at all. I can't even cross the border."

Uprising in Eastern Ukraine

Girkin does indeed have no business anymore in neighboring Ukraine, where insurgents in 2014 proclaim a People's Republic with the aim of joining Russia. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which is investigating the air disaster with MH17, wants to prosecute Girkin and has put him on the international investigation list. Because Russia does not extradite subjects, he is still safe in his hometown of Moscow.

When on July 17, 2014, a Russian rocket hit flight MH17, Igor Girkin led the uprising of pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine. A battle that continues to this day. As Minister of Defense in the DNR, he was responsible for bringing in the Russian anti-aircraft missile that put an end to 298 lives.

Woman next door

What brought this man to the battlefield of Eastern Ukraine? And how did he end up in such a high position? Discussions with family and friends of Girkin give an increasingly better picture.

Elena Konstantinovna (70) remains polite, but can't contain her criticism. What she should think of her old neighbor? She knows Igor Girkin from the past, as the son of well-educated parents, two floors higher. A slender boy, intelligent and already a bit out of the air. "When children were playing, he was on the sidelines. He didn't talk to them. Maybe he found himself smarter than others by then."

She formulates cautiously, but sometimes it is clear: Girkin should never have gone to Eastern Ukraine. "I didn't applaud that. Because he did it purely for himself. He only went there to fight, for the umpteenth time."

Not a family man

Konstantinovna in a purple robe is sitting in her kitchen on the seventh floor of an apartment building in Bibirevo, a typical Soviet neighborhood in the north of Moscow: concrete flats with steel doors, where people already drunk in the morning roam around. Opposite the apartment on Sjenskurski Avenue is his old primary school, a square building bordered by asphalt, grass and a fence of bars.

This is the apartment where Girkin returned to after his first marriage was over. With his second wife Vera he moved into the apartment opposite Konstantinovna. She hardly spoke to her old neighbor in all those years: he was always working. Although it is said that Girkin wrote two children's books, she does not know him as a children's friend. "He didn't even bother to look after his own sons."

Minister for Defense

In the spring of 2014, the family had suddenly left. Konstantinovna saw her neighbor on TV, as Minister of Defense of the People's Republic of Donetsk. He never visited his mother again, she says. "He has abandoned her. She's old, she misses him."

Two floors higher, mother Girkin doesn't react to the knocking on her door at first. Eventually a fragile old woman opens. When she hears that we are coming for her son, she pushes the door shut. "He's long gone here. You have to leave that boy alone", she says. "He hasn't done anything wrong."

War fanatic

That Girkin is attracted to war, his loved ones know ever since. He is a graduate historian and cherishes a love for historical battles. With a so-called re-enactment group he re-creates them, dressed in cossack uniform or medieval armor. He prefers to dress as a White Guard officer in the civil war of 1918-1920. Even his normal appearance, with short hair and striped mustache, was inspired by that time.

The war fanatic joined the Russian army after his studies and later becomes a reservist. Where fighting takes place, 'Strelkov' appears, 'the shooter' as his nom de guerre reads. In the early nineties he fought in Bosnia as a volunteer on the side of the Serbs. There he would have met Aleksandr Borodaj, who five years later became the first Prime Minister of the rebels in Donetsk.

Russian secret service

The Russian human rights organization Memorial is convinced that Girkin was partly responsible for the disappearance of six civilians during the Second Chechen War in 2001. The murders were allegedly carried out under the flag of the Russian secret service FSB, the successor of the KGB. Hacked e-mails from Girkin show that he worked there for years.

That Girkin in 2014 together with Borodaj played a role in the annexation of the Crimea peninsula and later on in Eastern Ukraine, is no coincidence. Both are former employees of the Russian Orthodox billionaire Konstantin Malofeyev who has been accused of financing the destabilization of Ukraine.

'Girkin is a maniac.'

In an English pub we talk to journalist Pavel Kanygin. He works for Novaja Gazeta, one of the few Russian newspapers that dare to write that MH17 was shot out of the sky by a Russian BUK missile. According to Kanygin, Girkin also has personal motives to go to war. "He needs kicks all the time." Since 2001, six of Kanygin's colleagues have already been murdered. While he's telling his story, his eyes are scanning the cafe. Kanygin calls Girkin a narcissist. "He's a maniac."

As easy as others typify him, so taciturn is Girkin himself. As Defense Minister in Donetsk, between June and August 2014, he keeps journalists at bay. Only at occasional press conferences he wants to answer some questions, dressed in a camouflage shirt. The most eye-catching is his Stetsjkin pistol from the fifties, which dangles from his belt in a wooden holster. "A ridiculous weapon", says American correspondent Christopher Miller.


Miller heard on July 5, 2014 that Girkin has lost an important city to the Ukrainian armed forces: Slavjansk. He takes the first train to get there. Together with the journalists Noah Sneider and Max Seddon he walks straight to Girkin's former headquarters in an old office of the Ukrainian security service. They had heard rumors that journalists were locked up in the basement and wanted to investigate.

The building appears to be partly blown up and smells of smoke and gasoline. "Maybe Strelkov tried to destroy what he couldn't take with him." Under a thick layer of ash the three journalists find more than a hundred documents. When they read those documents, one of them stumbles upon execution orders. "We realized that this was important evidence," says Miller. Girkin appears to have signed three sentences from a rebel tribunal, in which four Ukrainians are sentenced to execution with a bullet. Among them is Alexej Pitsjko, a 30-year-old petty thief who had snatched two shirts and a pants from his neighbor's house. Pitsjko begs to be sent to the front. His wife is pregnant. But the 'chairman of the Court' inexorably pronounces the death penalty.

Antique gun

To justify the firing squad, Girkin uses a Soviet decree from 1941. "That crazy antique gun, that World War II decree: Girkin lives in the past," says Miller. "Don't forget that this man was re-enacting historical battles and lovingly would like to see the czar back in power." Girkin is considered an ardent supporter of the Great Russian Empire, and wants to make Russia a world power again. He believes that all Russian-speaking parts of the world should unite. For him, Ukraine is no more than a renegade province.

Loose cannon

Ideologically, Girkin clashes with the Kremlin, says Miller. "Girkin had imperialist visions in Donetsk. He thought he was building a Great Russia. But that has never been the goal of the Kremlin. They would trade that region for more political influence in the rest of Ukraine anytime. The Donbass is just a small pawn in the geopolitical game of Russia."

That game was thwarted when on 17 July 2014 flight MH17 was shot out of the sky. Girkin initially reacts triumphantly. On his account at VKontakte he writes half an hour after the rocket impact that a cargo plane has been shot down: 'We warned not to fly in our airspace'.

Three weeks after the attack, which cost the lives of 298 people, Girkin is retrieved from Donetsk. "I suspect by the Kremlin", says journalist Pavel Kanygin. "All Russians in the top of the Donetsk People's Republic were quickly replaced by Ukrainians, to disguise the Russian involvement. In addition, Girkin was a loose cannon. I have heard that the Kremlin asked him in July to express his loyalty. He refused. That is his narcissistic side. He felt bigger than Putin."


An inflated ego is not the only problem according to Kanygin. "He suffers from schizophrenia. I have spoken several times with his ex-wife Vera. She says she has seen that on a medical certificate. In one of his children it has also been diagnosed. Because of that illness Girkin has not passed a psychological test of the FSB security service. That's why he had to leave."

Kanygin is convinced that Russia has knowingly sent a 'disturbed maniac' to Eastern Ukraine. "Clearly they couldn't send a regular Russian general, so they needed a mercenary with sufficient experience. And someone crazy enough to wage a dirty war there. The only problem with Girkin is that he doesn't take orders."

Political party

In August 2014 Girkin returned to Moscow bitterly. He makes several attempts to establish a political party against the regime of President Vladimir Putin. His Russian National Movement, which did not get off the ground very well, pleads for the annexation of Ukraine, Belarus and other (partly) Russian-speaking states. The movement also calls for strict quotas for migrants.

The People's Republic of Donetsk is still of concern to him. He founds the Novorossia movement, which supports the struggle in the Donbass with, among other things, aid supplies. However, his movement now no longer represents much. The income has dried up and Girkin has moved from an office in the center of Moscow to a small room in a suburb.


When we visit there, Eldar Khasanov, a member of the board of the movement, speaks to us. A camera is running during the interview, probably out of distrust of the Dutch journalists. Khasanov, who was a member of Girkin's general staff in the Donbass, puts blame on Russia for its unclear position on Eastern Ukraine. "This war has lasted longer than the Second World War. The same fascist ideology prevails in Ukraine as in those days. We have fought against this. It is an act of betrayal that Russia has let us down. Strelkov and I are disappointed about that."

Where Igor Girkin himself is staying at the moment is not clear from the conversation. Khasanov: "Strelkov is still the leader of this movement. That he does this says something about his character. He sincerely wants to help."

Garbage heap

Back to Suvorov'skaya Square, where Girkin demonstrates against a garbage heap. He doesn't look happy when two Dutch journalists introduce themselves to him.

What are you doing here?
"I want to speak out for this non-political movement. It's important to every Russian that his country doesn't turn into a garbage dump."

How is your life in Moscow now?
"I live here pretty well."

We would like to ask you a few more questions, you know what they are about.
"When it comes to the Boeing, I do not comment at all, apart from what I have already said about it: the insurgents did not shoot the Boeing. That's final."

If you are not guilty, can you explain it?
"I told you that, didn't I? The insurgents did not shoot the Boeing. No further comment."

Who is to blame?
"I said: no comment at all."

Then the former rebel leader is boning off. His gaze is relaxed when he steps into a car. In his own Moscow he has nothing to fear.

Translated with

Source (Dutch only):
DeepL Translator said:
All judges trial MH17 now known

The judges who, in addition to court president Hendrik Steenhuis, will take care of the lawsuit over the crash of MH17 flight, are now known. These are Dagmar Koster and Heleen Kerstens-Fockens. Daan Glass has been appointed as the reserve judge.

Editors 26-06-19, 17:32 Last update: 19:21

The appointment of a second reserve judge is still under consideration, according to The Judiciary on Thursday. In large, long-term cases, reserve judges are used more often. He or she can replace an attending judge, for example in case of illness, so that the case can continue unabated.

Koster previously worked at the courts in Alkmaar and Utrecht, and has been a criminal judge in The Hague since 2016. Kerstens-Fockens came to The Hague in 2009 after a period in Amsterdam. Glass has been a judge in The Hague since 2005.

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) previously announced that public prosecutors have also been appointed for the MH17 case. Their names are not yet known.

The lawsuit about flight MH17 will start on 9 March next year in the Judicial Complex Schiphol. The Public Prosecution has charged four men.

Translated with


The Living Force
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DeepL Translator said:
What are the ongoing proceedings against Russia for the MH17 disaster, and how promising are they?

The relatives of the flight MH17 disaster, five years ago on Wednesday , still do not have an answer to the question of who is responsible for the death of the 298 occupants. However, several proceedings are ongoing against Russia and some Russians. How promising are they?

Bert Lanting 15 July 2019, 5:01

Criminal proceedings: premeditated murder

In July 2015, the members of the Security Council held a minute's silence for the victims of the MH17 disaster, but immediately afterwards Russia vetoed the plan to set up a UN tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators. Instead, the countries most affected later agreed to place the case in the hands of the Dutch courts.

Last month, the Public Prosecutor's Office sued four suspects, including three Russians, for their share in the transport of the BUK launcher that shot down the Malaysian Boeing over rebel territory in Ukraine on 17 July 2014. According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, it is certain that the BUK came from the Russian army and returned to Russia after the disaster.

The trial of the four suspects will start next March, but they will probably be tried in absentia: two of them have already announced that they have absolutely no intention of coming to the Netherlands for the trial.

It is striking that the Public Prosecutor's Office has accused the four of premeditated murder. That is a strong indictment. Probably the disaster was a mistake: whoever gave the order to fire the Russian rocket, he probably assumed that it was a Ukrainian military plane, not a civilian one. And, in an armed conflict you can use such anti-aircraft missiles as long as you check that the target is not a civilian one.

Theoretically, the suspects could invoke this. But according to Marieke de Hoon, university lecturer in international criminal law at the Free University [of Amsterdam], the Public Prosecutor's Office argues that this bird doesn't fly because Russia has always denied that it was involved in the conflict in Ukraine. "In that case they cannot appeal to the right to use a weapon such as the BUK." According to her, the accusation of 'premeditated murder' indicates that the Public Prosecution Service is reasoning: it doesn't matter whether they were mistaken or not. "Even if they had shot down a military plane: that was also forbidden, just shooting was a crime", says De Hoon.

According to De Hoon, this is a powerful argument: "You cannot deny that you are a warring party and yet invoke the rights that belong to that status". But she does not dare to say whether the judge will follow the reasoning of the Public Prosecution Service: "There is little comparable jurisprudence about this, so we will have to wait and see how the judge will judge it."

According to her, the advantage of this approach is that it offers the Public Prosecution Service a vehicle to sue all the people involved in the preparations. "The Public Prosecutor's Office argues: they were not allowed to be there at all, because they say they were not there. So anyone involved in delivery, transport, etc. would be involved in a crime."

But even if the judge doesn't go along with it, you can still hold the entire chain responsible, according to De Hoon. "In an armed conflict, the use of such weapons is not prohibited. But then you do have the responsibility to check what the target is, whether or not it is a civilian target. Then it is forbidden. You must also make sure that you have the means to check that." And that's where the problem lies for the Russians: "They accepted the request to supply a BUK installation without sending in the necessary radar system. By doing so, they all accepted the risk that a civilian aircraft might be hit."

In any case, according to De Hoon, this will be a lengthy procedure. "Suspects on trial in absentia before Dutch courts have the right to send in an authorized lawyer. The lawyer can lodge an objection at every step of the procedure. Such an authorized lawyer can challenge the court and make all of it a huge spectacle. Then it can take a very long time."

Yet Piet Ploeg, the chairman of the Stichting Vliegramp MH17 who himself lost his brother, sister-in-law and a cousin in the disaster, is very pleased that the Public Prosecution Service has filed the first charges. He is convinced that more will follow. "They have people in their sights high up in the Kremlin. I'm sure they'll find out who pulled the trigger, but also who ordered the entire operation."

Even when the suspects are convicted, it is questionable whether they will ever be put behind bars. But they can never take a step outside Russia: then they run the risk of being arrested.

State liability: recognition, not just compensation

The Netherlands and Australia have held Russia liable for the MH17 disaster. If necessary, they could bring the case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), but several hurdles would have to be overcome.

First the parties have to try to find a solution between them, otherwise the ICJ has no jurisdiction. That is why the Netherlands and Australia have started negotiations with Russia behind the scenes. In other similar aviation cases, such as the attack on the plane over Lockerbie, this resulted in a settlement in which the state (in that case Libya) did not acknowledge liability but did pay compensation. De Hoon doubts whether the Netherlands and Australia will be satisfied with this. "Both the Netherlands and Australia have said very clearly what they want and that is recognition, cooperation in the criminal proceedings and compensation. But I think the latter is the least important thing. The Netherlands and Australia have made that recognition so central that I do not believe that they will say: 'We get some money from them, so let's leave it at that'."

Piet Ploeg of the Stichting Vliegramp MH17 too would find this a very unsatisfactory outcome. "That would be very bitter. We want justice, this is not a financial issue."

If the consultations between the Netherlands and Australia with Russia are unsuccessful, then they can take the case to the International Court of Justice, but Russia must agree to that. In order to circumvent this hurdle, according to De Hoon, they will look for treaties in which Russia does recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the event of a dispute. In this regard, they can invoke the 1944 Chicago Aviation Convention, in which Russia has not made any reservations. According to this convention, a state may not be involved in the shooting down of civil aircraft. "So if you can make a plausible case that Russian soldiers were involved, you can enter via the Chicago Convention," says De Hoon.

Ukraine has already brought a case against Russia before the International Court of Justice on the basis of the UN Convention against the Financing of Terrorism, among other things, in which Russia has not made any reservations either. According to De Hoon, the Netherlands also could make use of this, in combination with the Montreal Aviation Convention. " It states that the shooting down of a civilian aircraft is an act of terrorism."

The Montreal Convention also obliges the member countries to cooperate with the investigation in such a situation. But with Russia that is not the case. "The international investigation team JIT asked Russia two simple questions: where was the BUK installation in question on 17 July 2014, and was Sergey Dubinsky (the now indicted former intelligence officer) in military service at the time, but Moscow has never answered these questions," says De Hoon. "This, of course, is something you can use in the case of state liability. It's clear proof that they're not cooperating in the investigation."

According to De Hoon, Russia should also have initiated its own criminal investigation into persons who might have known who was involved. "All those complaints from Russia that they are not allowed to take part in the investigation are nonsense: they should have done so themselves."

The most tangible evidence that the Netherlands and Australia will provide in a possible case for the ICJ, are the images of the BUK installation of the 53rd air defense brigade from Kursk, Russia, on their way to Snizhne, near the place where the BUK missile was fired. If the Public Prosecution can prove that Russian military personnel served the BUK launcher, Russia's liability is clear. But the Court may also find Russia liable because it did not do enough to prevent the downing of a civilian aircraft. According to De Hoon, concealing evidence and frustrating the investigation can also be an argument: "These are rock-solid legal obligations."

An advantage of proceedings before the International Court of Justice is that the Court is very authoritative. "There is then also a Russian judge." But whether Russia will abide by the verdict is another matter. In any case, warns De Hoon, this procedure will also take years.

Human rights treaty: shooting down civil aircraft is a violation

Finally, a group of 380 surviving relatives brought proceedings against Russia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine are members of the Council of Europe and are therefore bound by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the rulings of the Court of Appeal as well.

The indictment against Russia revolves mainly around Article 2 of the human rights convention: the right to life. De Hoon: "It is a violation of the treaty to be involved in bringing down a civil aircraft. A state has a duty to prevent this in the area over which it has authority."

According to De Hoon, this will immediately be the most important point of contention: did the Russians have effective control over the area if they were not there? If there were Russian soldiers, then it's easy because they are the state. If Russia says they were volunteers, the judges can say: this does not seem credible to us. Also, because some people later rejoined the army."

According to De Hoon, the advantage of this route is that, when it comes to attributing responsibility to a state, the bar at the ECtHR is somewhat lower than at the International Court of Justice. "Did you have considerable influence there? Then, when you see that things could go wrong, you have the obligation to prevent that from happening. And if things go wrong, you have a duty to investigate."

Piet Ploeg of the Stichting Vliegramp MH17 feels most involved in the procedure at the human rights court. "With the other procedures we are still on the sidelines. This is something in which we are in control."

A problem is that in 2017 Russia passed a law which allows Russian judges to ignore a ruling of the ECtHR if it infringes Russian sovereignty. De Hoon: "Legally this is not allowed. The Vienna Treaty Convention stipulates that a state may not use its internal obligations in order to evade its international obligations." Again, De Hoon warns: "it can take seven to ten years before the ECtHR pronounces a ruling."

Civil proceedings against state-owned banks

In April this year, the relatives of American-Dutch Quinn Schansman initiated civil proceedings against two Russian state-owned banks, the Sberbank and VTB Bank, and four US-based money transfer agencies for support to the separatists. In doing so, they rely on the American Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), which offers victims and next of kin the opportunity to sue the terrorists' financiers. The six institutions are accused of providing services to the People's Republic of Donetsk (DNR), proclaimed by the rebels. According to lawyer David Pressman, the money transfer companies could have known that they cooperated in financing the separatists. According to him, the DNR has openly requested contributions for the purchase of weapons and ammunition.

Translated with

Source (Dutch only):

DeepL Translator said:
How sensible is an MH17 process in the Netherlands?

Ten questions about
The Public Prosecutor's Office charges four suspects with murder. This is also possible if the rocket attack was a mistake.

Arjen Schreuder 14 July 2019 at 20:24

In eight months' time the lawsuit will start in the Netherlands against three Russians and a Ukrainian who are suspected of having cooperated in bringing down flight MH17. They are charged with murder. Ten questions about the trial.

1 How does the trial work?

The MH17 case is being dealt with by the District Court of The Hague and will start on 9 March next year. Since previous year, the Cabinet has set aside 9 million euros a year for the trial. Minister Grapperhaus (Justice, CDA) has designated the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp as the location for the hearings. The Hague Palace of Justice lacks the facilities for such a large case.

2 Who is on trial?

There are four men on trial who, according to the prosecutors, have made it possible to take down the Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines over Eastern Ukraine. They did not fire the Russian anti-aircraft missile themselves, but they did make all the preparations for firing. The subpoenas are not yet delivered, the judicial authorities have made known. "We will shortly be asking the Russian Federation to do so by means of a request for legal assistance."

3 Why these men?

The Russian Igor Girkin (pseudonym 'Strelkov'), was commander of the pro-Russian forces, and arranged the application and deployment of the BUK rocket. The Russian fighter commander Sergey Dubinsky (nicknamed 'Grumpy'), started an intelligence service of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk and coordinated the positioning of the BUK. Ukrainian Leonid Chartshenko, nicknamed 'Krot' ('Mole Rat' in Russian) is said to have been the leader of a combat unit involved in the transport and security of the BUK, and to have taken care of its return to Russia after the crash. The Russian former lieutenant-colonel Oleg Pulatov (code name 'Gyurza', 'Viper' in Russian) was also involved in the transport of the BUK as a subordinate of Dubinsky.

4 Where does the indictment come from?

The Ministry of Justice bases itself on the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), an international team that has been conducting a criminal investigation into the crash over the past few years. In the JIT, the most affected countries, the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia and Belgium, work together with Ukraine, under the coordination of the Dutch chief officer of justice Fred Westerbeke.

5 Why a trial in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is second choice. The countries most affected had a preference for an international tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations, but this proposal was vetoed by Russia in the Security Council a year after the disaster. Three years after the crash, in 2017, the JIT countries decided that the trial should be held in the Netherlands, according to Dutch criminal law, with the support of international expertise.

6 Is a trial here wise?

The JIT countries have unanimously opted for the Netherlands. However, there is also criticism. The choice of the Netherlands reinforces the perception in Russia that the Netherlands has an independent interest in a conviction, since the Netherlands has already held Russia liable for bringing down MH17 and has also joined a large group of survivors in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. In the opinion of criminal lawyer and professor of international law Geert-Jan Knoops, the Netherlands has "slammed the door" on Russia, by not involving the country in the trial procedure and by already opting for a trial in the Netherlands two years ago. Knoops: "At that time, the dossier was not yet complete at all. So why not wait? For this reason too, Russia will not have any confidence in the judicial process in the Netherlands."

7 Can you speak of murder?

The Public Prosecutor's Office accuses the four men of two crimes; causing the crash of flight MH17 (article 168) and murder of the 298 occupants of flight MH17 (article 289). According to the judiciary, the men deliberately and premeditated killed the passengers by getting a BUK rocket from Russia. Life imprisonment can be demanded for both crimes.

8 But it was a mistake, wasn't it?

Indeed, there is a lot of evidence of a blunder; the pro-Russian separatists probably thought they were shooting down a military plane of the Ukrainian enemy, and not a commercial one. This is also shown by telephone calls from the separatists after the crash. But even if the rocket attack was a mistake, the men can be convicted for murder; then there is a question of 'conditional intent'; recklessness in which you take for granted the chance that you will kill someone else than you intended. From this point of view, the MH17 crash is a mistake murder.

9 Can the men invoke military law? They were at war, weren't they? And they did carry out orders?

An interesting issue, about which the opinions of jurists differ. The Public Prosecutor's Office argues: let the men come and explain it at the trial. As long as the men do not explain anything about this, they cannot invoke military law, the so-called 'combatant privilege'. The suspects seem to be in a legal jam; they will never be able to claim that war privilege, because in doing so they would acknowledge that Russia had invaded its neighbor.

10 Are there more suspects?

Until a few years ago, the judiciary had about a hundred people in its crosshair who were involved in the operation. In the meantime, this group has been reduced to a maximum of a few dozen. In any case, the Ministry of Justice wants to trace and bring to justice the crew of the BUK launching unit. Moreover, the Ministry of Justice says that it does not shy away from prosecuting the authorities responsible. Recently the JIT named Vladislav Surkov ('the Grey Cardinal'), one of the most powerful men of the Kremlin and advisor to President Putin on Ukraine at the time of the crash. The JIT played fragments of a telephone conversation in which Surkov discusses military matters with the leader of the People's Republic of Donetsk. This investigation is continuing.

Translated with

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(eight illustrations omitted)

DeepL Translator said:
Lockerbie widow: Truth MH17 will not come out as long as Putin is in power.

What awaits the relatives of the MH17 passengers when the trial against the suspects begins next year? Lockerbie widow Stephanie Bernstein tempers expectations.

Karlijn van Houwelingen 15-07-19, 16:00 Latest update: 16:50

Stephanie Bernstein: "My heart goes out to the families." © ShalomDC

She clearly remembers what she was thinking when she heard five years ago about the passenger plane that had been shot down over a war zone in Ukraine. Again innocent passengers, victims of the whims of criminal rulers. "My heart goes out to the families, really'', says Stephanie Bernstein, rabbi near Washington. "For I know that the pain in their hearts will never go away, no matter what happens at the trial."

If anyone can imagine what the families of the people on board flight MH17 are going through, it will be the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie attack. Their aircraft, flight 103 from London to New York, was torn apart in 1988 by an explosion over the Scottish Lockerbie. A bomb in the luggage compartment killed all 243 predominantly American passengers, 16 crew members of airline Pan Am and 11 residents of the Scottish town.

Small children

One of the occupants was Michael Bernstein (36), prosecutor of the U.S. Department of Justice. His wife Stephanie was left behind with two small children. For years she had to wait for suspects to appear before a judge. Two security guards from Libya were eventually charged with the attack.

It is unlikely that the four men suspected of being involved in the shooting of MH17 will appear in court. But with tough sanctions and endless negotiations it was possible at the time to force dictator Muammar Gaddafi to extradite the two Libyans. Bernstein hadn't counted on it any more, she says. In a Scottish court on neutral territory, Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001. An alleged accomplice was acquitted.

In the eyes

Some of the next of kin traveled to the Netherlands to look the bomber in the eye. In the US they could also follow the trial via a video link. "Many people think that the truth will come out of such a trial. That's not the case, I've learned'', says Bernstein. "Even if the so called 'truth' comes to light, there is no guarantee that the people who are really responsible will be held accountable. That certainly did not happen in our case. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it's going to happen in the MH17 case."

Al-Megrahi and his accomplice were agents of the Libyan secret service. They had received orders, and in the case of something as sensitive as an attack on Americans, they must have come from the highest circles. "In the Libyan security service nothing happened without orders from Gaddafi," thinks Bernstein.


But his role has never been clarified. Gaddafi paid the next of kin considerable compensation and was later killed by his own people during an uprising that turned Libya upside down. But Gaddafi was never penalized. "Punishment, that's something between him and God,'' says Bernstein now.

It wasn't for the efforts of investigators that this happened. Under the leadership of Robert Mueller, who would later become the special prosecutor investigating the actions of President Donald Trump, heaven and earth was moved to get to the perpetrators, she experienced.

"Mueller has relentlessly tried to figure out the truth. We would not have come this far without him. But there was simply no evidence that could have led to an indictment against Gaddafi. The legal system is limited in that sense. Someone like Gaddafi or Putin doesn't leave any fingerprints."


And then there is the political level - in the Lockerbie case, for example, commercial interests played a role. International and American companies wanted to continue to make money in Libya. About the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bernstein does not have a good word to say. He mainly wanted to do business with the Libyans again, and a few years after the conviction he had tea with Gaddafi in his Bedouin tent in order to secure oil and arms deals.

Because of her experiences in the Lockerbie process Bernstein is not very optimistic. "As long as Putin is in power, I do not think the truth will come out. I hope that in the MH17 trial at least the connections with the Putin regime will become clearer. Then people and governments will have to live with it from then onward, when they sit down with him.

Incessant pleas

It is the birthday of her husband's death, when Bernstein talks about the aftermath of the Lockerbie attack. He should have been 67 years old today. In all those years since his death, Stephanie Bernstein has been outspoken. She testified in Congress, for example, and used a photograph of her husband to speak at a conference where the Libyan UN ambassador was sitting in front of her. "The fact that there was an indictment was really thanks to the incessant pleas of the families in the United States'', Bernstein thinks. "We refused to let our government sweep all this under the carpet. We insisted in Washington on sanctions against Libya, talked to people at the State Department - we really never gave up. The further away we got from the event, and the less important Gaddafi became, the less people were interested in justice in this case."

The Scots even decided in 2009 to let Al-Megrahi go. He had terminal prostate cancer, and would soon die was the idea. Out of humaneness they sent him back to Libya, where he was welcomed as a hero by Saif, a son of Gaddafi.


"Disgusting and horrible," says Bernstein. "The idea of mercy, for what? He was still alive for a number of years after he was released, and he was already very compassionately treated. Not tortured in a Scottish dungeon or so, he got medical care. The Libyans paid so his family could visit. When I heard Kenny MacAskill, the Minister of Justice, talk about 'mercy' with his Scottish accent, I just wanted to throw up."

Al-Megrahi could still have answered questions about his employers, thinks Bernstein. But when the Scots let him go, that hope was gone. In the meantime he has passed away, and yet there are still so many loose ends in the whole case that it is teeming with conspiracy theories about Lockerbie. The father of a British victim remained convinced of the innocence of Al-Megrahi and even became friends with him.

Officially, the investigation is still ongoing 31 years later - recently the Scottish authorities interviewed five former employees of the East German secret service Stasi. The Stasi is said to have shadowed Libyans who blew up a West Berlin disco in 1986. One of them may also have been involved in the attack over Lockerbie.

For Bernstein the conviction of Al-Megrahi in 2001 was a 'small solace' as she looks back. But she could not close the case. Not even after a trial. "Closing, I don't even know what that means. You'll never get over this, you just can't."

Never stop

Her husband Michael Bernstein was an agent for the Special Investigations Agency of the Department of Justice in the United States, better known as the 'Nazi hunters'. Ironically, says his widow, he was convinced that the pursuit of justice should never stop. Decades after their crimes he tracked down Nazi criminals, to try them or at least deport them - when they came to the US they had lied about their war past.

Stephanie Bernstein no longer has expectations, but still hopes a little. That someone, perhaps an enterprising journalist, goes after the truth in the spirit of her husband. That those responsible for the deaths of the passengers on flight 103 and flight MH17 still are called to account. Michael Bernstein had hung a note from a Chinese fortune cookie on the door of his study. 'The law sometimes sleeps', it said, 'but it never dies'.

Translated with

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DeepL Translator said:
"We do what we can. But it's never enough."

Fuad Sharuji | Crisis Manager Malaysia Airlines He was due to retire, but has been working for five years on the aftermath of two major crashes. "In Malaysia, the MH370 disaster overshadowed the MH17 disaster a little."

Annemarie Kas 14 July, 2019 20:25

Fuad Sharuji Already 43 years with Malyasia Airlines

He knows all the stories. From the parents who carry a piece of their child's tooth on a chain. Of the two passengers on flight MH17, the only ones who were not found in Ukraine, so they were never officially identified. Of the families who did not want compensation, even though the airline offered it as standard procedure.

Five years later, the life of crisis director Fuad Sharuji of Malaysia Airlines has become intertwined with that of the survivors of disaster flights MH17 and MH370. In March 2014, flight MH370 disappeared from the radar on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Four months later, the MH17 was shot out of the sky. Sharuji was due to retire in 2014, but has not yet done so.

He shows pictures on his phone. Look, here a Dutch couple gets a painted portrait of their deceased daughter. Sharuji had that made on behalf of Malaysia Airlines. And here he is with two Chinese, relatives of passengers on flight MH370, in his own garden. They wanted to visit him. "We do what we can. But it's never enough." Nobody gets their loved ones back with it.

In July 2014, Malaysia Airlines had teams flown over to Amsterdam and the Ukrainian capital Kiev for assistance. Sharuji remembers that from the start the biggest problem was to get access to the disaster area. The first Ukrainian air traffic controller he spoke to explained to him where the plane had crashed and that that spot in Eastern Ukraine was about a seven-hour drive from Kiev. "However, he did not mention that a war was going on there and that access was therefore impossible. We thought: come on, there is a plane that crashed, stop everything. But that's not how it went."

Sharuji has been with Malaysia Airlines for over forty years. Of course he knew the crew of MH17, but he also had a personal connection with the plane. It was the last project he worked on as a technician before taking over management of the airline company. It was in 2005, they had the interior of the aircraft completely refurbished. "New seats for the business class, that sort of thing."

The pictures of the wreckage in the Ukrainian fields touched him. "Technicians are careful and respectful with parts of airplanes. You don't do that kind of thing, for example, letting parts lie scattered on the ground just like that." In 2015 he visited Gilze-Rijen, where a reconstruction of the aircraft was made out of the found wreckage. "I saw the holes in the fuselage of the aircraft. The engine, the landing gear, all broken and in pieces. That broke my heart."

Last month, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), the international investigation team, announced that three Russians and one Ukrainian are being prosecuted for involvement in bringing down MH17. The reaction of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was remarkable: he called the investigation politically motivated and said he did not believe that Russia was behind the firing of the rocket.

Malaysia Airlines supports JIT

Sharuji doesn't have much to say about this. It is politically sensitive. He partly defends Mahathir: "The Prime Minister wants to separate the individual perpetrators from the country they come from. You cannot hold the country responsible for the actions of the individuals, he wanted to make that clear." But Malaysia Airlines fully supports the international justice team, he says. "We have faith in how they approach the investigation and continue to support them."

Honestly, says Sharuji, the settlement of 'MH370' takes him about three times as much time as cases around the MH17. "In Malaysia, the MH370 overshadows the MH17 disaster a little."

The main reason for this is that the crash of the MH370 is still a mystery to this day. The plane turned around on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, to the southwest, and crashed in the Indian Ocean. Wreckage washed ashore on the beaches of Madagascar and the island of La Réunion. However, some family members of victims still do not believe that the plane really crashed into the sea, says Sharuji. "They think it's a conspiracy, that the plane had to disappear because there were American weapons on board."

Dozens of return trips to Beijing

In five years, Sharuji flew more than forty times to Beijing to speak to relatives - most of the passengers came from China. The Chinese deal with their grief very differently than the Dutch, he says. For weeks, about 1,500 Chinese surviving relatives stayed in hotels in Beijing, at the expense of Malaysia Airlines, to wait there for news about their loved ones. "We could only get them out with the help of the police. They refused to leave. They cried hard and much together. The Dutch are more reserved, they mourn in silence."

Fuad Sharuji has learned to appreciate life more because of the two disasters. It has even enriched his life, he says, although that is strange to say perhaps. The victims of the two flights came from fourteen different countries: from the Netherlands to China and from Australia to India. All those relatives mourn in their own way. "I now understand better that what works for one person and is logical, is not necessarily the same for another."

Fuad Sharuji has been working for the airline Malaysia Airlines since 1976. First as a technician, later as vice president of the Operations Control Center which monitors all flights. In 2014, the airline exempted him to handle the MH370 and MH17 disasters.

The MH370 crash on 8 March 2014 killed all 239 passengers. Most of them, 153 passengers, were Chinese. The flight went from Kuala Lumpur to Beiing, where the aircraft would never land.

On 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines lost aircraft MH17. All 298 passengers were killed. The aircraft was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur before it was shot down over Eastern Ukraine.

Both aircraft were of type Boeing 777. In the years after the disasters Malaysia Airlines sold the fifteen 777's that they still had in their fleet.

Translated with


FOTCM Member
Source (Dutch only):
{information on survey}
The survey also shows that almost ninety percent of the next of kin questioned, assume that the blame lies with the separatists (43 percent) or with the Russian army (44 percent). None of the next of kin thinks that the Ukrainian army is guilty of firing the BUK, but ten percent say that there is 'still not enough clarity' to answer the question of guilt.
Having a look at the many articles to review since Saturday (much from a Dutch media perspective), and aside from the thoughts of Fuad Sharuji (Malaysia Airlines), in this quoted separate article was thinking about this business of surveying the family members in consideration of their lost loved ones (which was expanded to the Dutch population in general by the sounds of it) and those responsible - what a thing to do to them, give them a survey (at least the ten percent was encouraging, though). The survey makes pains to provide confirmation in large numbers, and much of it seems to be riding on the back (unsaid) of the so called evidence produced by the likes of Bellingcat who acts like a priming mechanism for the public; reinforced by a number of Dutch prosecutors and investigator (going back to older articles in this thread).

Another article states:

The Montreal Convention also obliges the member countries to cooperate with the investigation in such a situation. But with Russia that is not the case. "The international investigation team JIT asked Russia two simple questions: where was the BUK installation in question on 17 July 2014, and was Sergey Dubinsky (the now indicted former intelligence officer) in military service at the time, but Moscow has never answered these questions," says De Hoon. "This, of course, is something you can use in the case of state liability. It's clear proof that they're not cooperating in the investigation."
There is clear proof of the culpability of Western pointed fingers almost immediately at Russia without a careful (and open) review of the data; it was totally lopsided without implicating, for instance, the regional Galicia minded friends in Ukraine who could only have 'clean hands' of course, and only better intentions. Damn those Russian's, most believe (as the survey above suggests too).

The other article looks to Lockerbie, Scotland, which then manages to intertwine the 'great' Robert Mueller against Trump (as if it was needed to aid the story) and then to denigrate Gaddafi - and by association, Putin, who is also named ("Someone like Gaddafi or Putin doesn't leave any fingerprints."). This is through the lens of Stephanie Bernstein who suffered greatly as a result of that Lockerbie event with loss, so it is understandable. It is not understandable the way Karlijn van Houwelingen phrases some of the articles line of force (examples):

- "Again innocent passengers, victims of the whims of criminal rulers." (Karlijn)
- "They had received orders, and in the case of something as sensitive as an attack on Americans, they must have come from the highest circles." (Karlijn)

Without getting into this Lockerbie situation further (and note Bernstein's husband was a US Nazi hunter - no mention by Stephanie of their likes in Ukraine who might have had motive enough in in issuing directives re MH117), have a read here (2015):

With all the information available in the press since 2014 that has culminated right up until today, it is understandable that a survey would produce those types of results; it could almost not do otherwise while feeding further bias to the public.
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