The trial over the Boeing MH17 crash over Eastern Ukraine in 2014 moved forward in the Netherlands.
Eyewitness testimony was first read out on what the investigation considers to be the launch of a Buk anti-aircraft missile system towards the Malaysian Airlines liner in the sky at that moment.
The witnesses were questioned by both the International Investigation Team (JIT) and the investigating judge.
A total of 20 witnesses stated that they saw in the sky the trail from the launch of a certain rocket. 12 of them also heard a rumble or explosion that preceded the appearance of this trail in the sky. Of these 12, eight people directly saw or heard the flight of the rocket in the sky.
Answering the question about the possible place of the missile launch, the majority of the interviewed witnesses indicated the direction to the left of the Snezhnoe. Some indicated a more accurate location – a place not far from Saur-mogila or the village of Pervomayskoye.
These statements coincide with the calculations of the Belgian experts and the conclusion of the investigation that the Boeing was shot down by a missile fired from a field near the village of Pervomayskoye in the Snezhnoye area.
At the same time, 11 witnesses who heard the missile launch stated that on the same day they themselves saw the Buk air defense missile system or heard that it was in the area. Three witnesses claim that they were in the immediate vicinity of the missile launch site, heard or saw its flight and observed its trail in the sky.
The court paid special attention to the testimony of a witness designated X48.
He reported that on July 17, 2014, shortly before the Boeing crash (around 16:20 local time), he was at a checkpoint near the village of Pervomayskoye. He saw a military vehicle with green missiles passing by, which then drove towards an agricultural field and disappeared behind the trees.
Then the witness heard a roar, after which a whistle and saw how a white trail appeared in the sky, leaving towards the city of Torez (judging by the data of radars and “black boxes”, it was in that direction that the Boeing MH17 was at that moment). A moment later, an explosion was heard in the sky, and then the witness saw the wreckage of an aircraft falling from the clouds to the ground.
Shortly thereafter, witness X48 saw the war vehicle moving in the opposite direction, with one of the missiles on top of the vehicle missing. And part of the field from which the installation came is on fire.
The court presented the technical characteristics of the Buk air defense missile system and data that after the missile was launched, a cloud of gases formed at the site of the complex, and a fire could also occur (if this is facilitated, for example, by the presence of dry grass).
The flying Buk missile leaves a contrail in the air, which can be seen for a few more minutes. The moment of launch is also accompanied by the sound of a loud bang, which occurs due to the fact that the rocket develops supersonic speed. This sound, according to documentation and tests carried out, can be heard at a distance of approximately five kilometers for 20 seconds.
To assess the reliability of this testimony, the investigating judge examined the witness’s telephone billing data. It turned out that on July 17 he was indeed in the area he was talking about.
A burnt patch of grass in a field near Pervomayskoye a few days after the Boeing crash was found by a journalist from the Daily Telegraph.
The data that the launch of the rocket at the Boeing took place from a field near Snezhnoye and Pervomayskoye was also published by the United States back in 2014. They refer to the fact that their military satellite recorded the moment of the missile launch. The court several times asked the United States to release the image, but the Americans refuse to do so, citing the fact that this will reveal the technical capabilities of the satellites available to the Pentagon.
Notably, the JIT on Boeing MH17 rejected the testimony of two witnesses who said they saw a missile launch from the Amvrosievka settlement near Donetsk, where the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) were stationed, Judge Helein Kerstens-Fokens said.
“The dossier refers to the testimony of two witnesses in September 2014, which were transferred by Russia to the Joint Investigation Group (JIT). They are a pair of Ukrainian refugees from Snizhne who now live in Russia. Both made the same testimony, stating that on July 17, 2014 in 17:20 they saw a rocket launch from the direction of the village of Amvrosievka, where the Ukrainian army was stationed. The investigation team rejected this testimony, primarily because this area is too far from the point where the plane disappeared from radar. ”
And the prosecution classified its witnesses. That is, we will never know who said that he saw the launch from the territory of the militia. And whether it really happened, or rather it is fitting facts to an already decided conclusion.
Separately, since Russia was refused to take part in the investigation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of withholding facts related to the crash of Boeing MH17 in Donbass in 2014.
The diplomat recalled that Washington refuses to provide the court with satellite images that can shed light on what happened.
“A few days ago, a Dutch court directly announced that there is no more hope that the Americans will provide these images, and the issue is closed for the court. Facts of colossal importance are being concealed,” Lavrov said.
On June 7, it became known that a court in the Netherlands abandoned attempts to obtain satellite images from the United States related to the Boeing crash. These photographs were supposed to confirm the launch of a missile from a Buk anti-aircraft complex near the crash site on the day of the plane crash.