The official reason of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 seems to be difficult to determine. Even though Russia was blamed for the crash, it was recently revealed that Russia did not shoot down the plane.
The senior Australian policeman investigating the MH17 crash, Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghue, testified in an international court recently saying that a “tougher standard than the DSB report” is required before the criminal investigation can identify the weapon that caused the crash.
A local newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch reported from the courtroom “the Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysia Airlines flight… was hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine”. In fact, Donoghue of the AFP said this was an unverified claim by the DSB for “a missile of a type previously provided to Ukraine.”
In court, in addition to members of the Coroner’s staff, there was one government intelligence agent who kept his official identification tag inside his coat, and refused to say whether he was an Australian or American national.
Donoghue was the lead witness. He continues to direct a team of 22 Australian police, forensic specialists and intelligent agents stationed in The Netherlands and Ukraine. He was followed by Dr David Ranson (right), a Victorian pathologist who led a team of 4; they worked at the Dutch military base at Hilversum in July and August of 2014, after the bodies of the MH17 victims were taken there for identification and forensic analysis. Donoghue said a full report by the AFP had been included in the coroner’s evidence. Ranson has filed two reports with the coroner – one of August 25, 2014, and one on December 16, 2014. So far the Coroner has classified these documents as secret.
Testifying on oath, Donoghue revealed for the first time that the Australian government had quietly negotiated two agreements to investigate the crash site in eastern Ukraine. The first, he said, was with the Ukrainian government in Kiev for security around the crash site. The second was with Novorussian leaders in order for the Australians to carry out their searches for victims’ bodies, personal property and other evidence, as well as to run a command post in Donetsk city. Political recognition by the Australians of the separatists has never been acknowledged before. Donoghue refused to say who signed the agreement for the Novorussians.
The recovered aircraft wreckage was first photographed and registered in The Netherlands by the DSB. Image-1 shows the first DSB photograph, with a single hole visible. Image-2 shows that a new photograph published by DSB reveals a second hole. See here.
In his testimony Donoghue said that ten months after the crash, and after Kiev officials had handed over less than half the fuselage fragments to the Dutch, the discovery was made of “some fragments not consistent with debris of the aircraft”. Had he found shrapnel from an explosive device, missile or cannon? Donoghue refused to answer. The deaths of the passengers, he testified, had been caused by “inflight breakup [of the aircraft] and immediate decompression”, not by munitions. The lack of shrapnel as evidence of cause of death is analysed here.
Ranson, who is an associate professor of forensic pathology and deputy director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, told the court he and his team had spent two and half weeks studying the victims’ bodies at Hilversum. There, he confirmed, X-rays and CT scans were carried out and more than 700 autopsies. He testified that when the Australian victims’ bodies were repatriated to the morgue at the Coroners Court, another CT scan was taken of each body, and matched against the scan taken at Hilversum. Ranson’s reports ruling out the presence of shrapnel from a missile strike in any of the MH17 bodies have been kept secret to date.
The court heard that the survivors of the crash victims have been regularly briefed and counselled by Australian Government officials. They have also been coached not to answer press questions, although one admitted his family had been allowed to meet lawyers. Three statements were given in evidence at the inquest by representatives of the victims. One from members of the Van Den Hende family — Shaliza Dewal, her husband Hans Van Den Hende and their three children Piers, 15, Marnix, 12, and daughter Margaux, 8, were killed – said media reports of the crash were unreliable and unconvincing: “we are unsure who or what to believe.”