MH17 Criminal Case: Show Trial or Justice? [VIDEO]

ER Editor: Our immense gratitude to Dutch journalist Michel van der Kemp, who has done a sterling job of creating a transcript of a very long, revealing interview with the journalist who has been looking deeply into the downing of the MH17 plane over the Donbass area of Ukraine in 2014. It is remarkable that it has taken so long to reach the end point of the case, which is supposed to happen today. What is also remarkable is how a serious investigation has been stymied in pretty much every way possible. It is indeed another extension of the war the western Deep State has been waging with Russia for a very long time.


MH17 criminal case: show trial or justice?


When Secretary of State John Kerry in August 2014 said: “we saw the take-off, we saw the trajectory, we saw the hit”, he was holding a match to a powder keg. One super power accusing another of shooting down a civilian airplane, with 298 people on board, over an already highly volatile area of the Eastern Ukraine. And today, everyone in the West simply knows: a Russian BUK missile shot down MH17, on July 17th, 2014. Evil tongues suggest as it stands that the world is on the brink of a nuclear war.

Today – Thursday November 17th, 2022 – after a trial that took almost 3 years over 68 sessions, a Dutch court is expected to give a ruling on the criminal case against four suspects, three Russians and one Ukrainian. This court ruling could have major consequences on the geopolitical chessboard.

In expectation of that verdict, we bring you an interview, conducted in Dutch and translated into English, with one of the foremost experts on the MH17 case. Investigative Dutch journalist Eric van de Beek, who has followed the MH17 trial closely, discusses all the evidence that was presented to the court. He also paints a picture of the political landscape and the state of journalism, and the external pressures exerted on the court.

Van de Beek is not very hopeful that truth will be the winner today.

Interview Stan van Houcke and Eric van de Beek for CafeWeltschmerz


Stan van Houcke (SH): Thursday, November 17, 2022, which is next week, the court of The Hague will rule in the MH17 case. Four suspects have been designated by the Public Prosecution Service, against whom the Public Prosecution Service has demanded life imprisonment. This concerns 3 Russians and 1 Ukrainian. In the studio is investigative journalist Eric van de Beek, who has closely followed this process and has studied the entire MH17 case to the seam. He has written that down in a book “MH17 de onderste steen – een non-fiction detective”, in which he deals with this case in 352 pages. As an investigative journalist, he is actually one of the few in the Netherlands who has studied this case in detail. So as a journalist.

To clearly outline what it is all about, I would like to outline the following, which comes from the Ministry of Justice: “In the Netherlands, the evidence must be legal and convincing during criminal cases. It is sufficient for a conviction that the court no longer has any reasonable doubt about the perpetrator or the suspects who are being prosecuted. This means that the evidence structure must, in principle, be logically sound and must not leave any real room for alternative explanations or scenarios. Such scenarios should be dismissed as extremely unlikely. The answer to the question of when this is the case actually touches on the foundations of our criminal procedure.” Because otherwise it is a political process.

Eric as an investigative journalist, you have dealt with it for a long time, do you have the impression that it has been legally and convincingly proven that there is no longer any reasonable doubt that the four perpetrators of the crash of the MH17 are involved.

Eric van de Beek (EB): Well, it was 68 court sessions that I have followed since March 9, 2020. I have not seen any convincing evidence, let alone conclusive evidence that these four men can be found guilty of what they are charged with. Perhaps I’ll explain: these men are not suspected of having pressed the button, of launching the fatal missile, nor of giving the order to fire that missile. They are suspected of having a BUK-TELAR that they got from Russia, that they transported it, that they guarded it, that they designated a place where that thing was to be set up. They are only accused of that. And the Public Prosecution Service still does not know who those men are who were in that BUK-TELAR that was brought in from Russia. They say they are still investigating that case. But yes, for lack of anything better I think they put these four men in front of the fence.

SH: As jointly responsible, for a BUK missile that was used.
Speaking immediately about our colleagues, did other Dutch journalists from the major mainstream media also follow this process every day?

EB: Well not to my knowledge, I’m not 100% sure, because you could also follow the case via a live stream. There is a journalist I have often seen there, that was a journalist from the ANP, but what struck me was that more often than not her reporting was not taken over by the newspapers. That’s what I asked her, is it true that your messages are often not posted? She had to confirm that, and she didn’t know why. My explanation for this is that everyone already thinks they know how it happened, namely that story of the Russian BUK-TELAR who shot down MH17. So yes, that was actually already established for the newspapers and the other media before the trial had started.

SH: In fact, the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, which passes for a quality newspaper, already wrote 4 days after the crash, without any evidence, that the Russians had done it.

EB: Yes.

SH: That was the strong suggestion of Bas Heijne, opinion maker of the NRC. Moreover, a few months later, also without any evidence, the NRC books chief said that it was (ER: Donbass?) separatists who had fired the BUK missile and hit the plane. In other words, you cannot see the process in the larger context, and that larger context is that we have been seeing Russia for years as a major threat to world peace.

EB: Yes, Russia are the bad guys, and we are the good guys, and that includes the Ukrainians. No indeed, I therefore think that there has been very little interest from the mainstream press in this lawsuit.

SH: That’s crazy because the stakes are quite high. Because four people can be convicted of something they were not involved in or were indirectly involved in, so you can expect the general public to be interested in that as well. Why is it that this is not the case in the Netherlands, that you can say at an early stage: it’s them, and we don’t really have to take that so seriously anymore?

EB: Well, for the reason I just mentioned, that we in the Netherlands are biased. The Russians are the bad guys and we are the good guys, including the Ukrainians. Then you don’t actually need to know how it went, then you already know that it’s the Russians.

SH: But then it’s a mockery, you’re not talking about journalism, you’re talking about propaganda.

EB: Yes, yes. (Cynical laugh)

SH: Okay, there’s US satellite imagery. At least that’s what the then Secretary of State Kerry said. He reported that shortly after the disaster on July 17, 2014 that “we saw the take-off, we saw the trajectory, we saw the hit”. Done, we have the evidence. How did those satellite images go?

EB: Yes, according to the Americans, that missile was launched 6 km south of Snizhne, a city in the Donbass. Yes how did it go with that, we didn’t get it in the end. The court has begged and begged, including Piet Ploeg’s surviving relatives’ association, which has sent a letter to the American ambassador in The Hague. Well, nothing has come, nothing has been delivered.

SH: Why not. What is the explanation of the Americans for not supplying it?

EB: Yes, they say they are secret satellite images and if we provide them to the Dutch, it will provide an insight into the technology that we have at our disposal, because they have technology that allows you to see through the clouds. (ER: the ‘national security’ argument?)

SH: That’s a nonsense argument, I’m talking as a journalist now. I think that’s a nonsense argument, because this is about an independent judge who looks at those images in the privacy of a court case and says: they are indeed there. Then you can’t say, yes, but we have to keep it a secret, etc, not exactly, you have to show it to the judge.

EB: Yes, there was someone from the Military Intelligence Service MIVD who was allowed to take a look in Washington, who says he saw it. He has drawn up an official message, but that is not legally valid in court. Because the examining magistrate, that is the investigating judge, must be able to view it, otherwise it is not legally valid.

SH: But why is the MIVD allowed to look into it, and an independent investigating judge not?

EB: Yes good question, maybe because they trust him more, because yes MIVD is a military intelligence service, the Netherlands is a NATO country, and (interrupted)

SH: I think that’s interesting too, before we talk about the exact stuff. This concerns the JIT (Joint Investigation Team) for the most part…

EB: Yes, we should perhaps explain that, that JIT is an international research team, and there is the Netherlands and Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine. These are police officers and prosecutors who conducted a criminal investigation into the MH17 disaster.

SH: But all but one, which is Malaysia, are all NATO countries or NATO-affiliated countries.

EB: Yes, maybe that’s why Malaysia wasn’t allowed to join in the first place. Ukraine did not want Malaysia at first, I also think that the Dutch did not want that, I don’t think the Belgians and Australians either. But that the Ukrainians did not want the Malaysians there, that has been proven, from other sources. They finally joined in December 2014.

SH: Why weren’t they allowed to join?

EB: The official explanation (laughs) was that the Malaysians have the death penalty, which is the ultimate punishment.

SH: But they are sentenced in the Netherlands, we have nothing to do with the death penalty.

EB: But it was not yet known that the trial would take place in the Netherlands, that was not yet known in 2014, so well.

SH: So after that they were allowed in. And then the death penalty no longer applied?

EB: There seems to be an agreement, at least that’s what the Public Prosecution Service told me, that an agreement has been made with Malaysia. I don’t know what date that was.

SH: And why couldn’t that appointment be made sooner?

EB: Yes (laughs and shrugs)

SH: The trial judge made it clear at the start of the trial that the MH17 case revolves around three main questions. What are they?

EB: Was MH17 shot down with a BUK missile. Was that missile fired from an area controlled by the separatists, the rebels (ER: Donbass). And question three do those four men who are now on trial, do they have anything to do with it.

SH: Yeah, but then I still don’t get it, because if those men were involved, it doesn’t make them guilty of firing that missile.

EB: That’s right they were charged with complicity. That’s what it comes down to.

SH: Complicit in what?

EB: Their intention was to shoot down planes. That was also before MH17. Perhaps we should also tell you, that is also an important detail, before MH17 came down, 16 helicopters, fighter aircraft and military transport aircraft had already been shot down in that area. So yes, those rebels, they had the intention to shoot everything that was hostile, that arrived from Kiev, to bring it down. They succeeded quite well in that. And these men, that is Igor Girkin, that is the Defense Minister of that Republic of Donetsk, then you had Sergey Dubinskiy, who was responsible for the intelligence service, then you had Oleg Pulatov, who is the only one represented in this lawsuit, through his lawyers. He was also involved in intelligence, and then you had Leonid Kharchenko, who commanded combat units, and he would also have done something in intelligence, I don’t know what exactly. Well, they have been involved in shooting down planes, so their goal was to shoot down planes. Anything that was flagged as hostile. They didn’t do that themselves, but they led such a defense unit.

SH: So they must have known that that plane was going to be fired on, the MH17?

EB: Whether they must have known. That was of course not the intention to shoot at it, so if indeed a BUK-TELAR was brought in from Russia, which was set up in that area with the cooperation of those rebels, if it shot down MH17, then I don’t think that happened on purpose, they had no interest whatsoever in doing so, they only experienced a disadvantage as a result.

SH: But here’s another aspect. The witnesses, not one but quite a number of witnesses said, yes, wait a minute, that plane, that MH17 that was in the air, you could see that, that’s a big plane, but there were fighter planes underneath. In other words, this was provoked, they tried to shoot down those fighter jets.

EB: Yes, that is indeed what the separatists say, not all of them say that, but there are those who say that.

SH: But those are witnesses?

EB: Well, there are an awful lot of people who say they’ve seen or heard fighter jets. I think that’s more than 100 people. But the Public Prosecution Service says there weren’t any because no fighter planes are visible on the radar images. We just talked about satellite images from the Americans, which have not been delivered, but the Russians have provided radar images, and eventually the Ukrainians as well. You are talking about primary radar images, which do not show a fighter plane, not even a missile, by the way. But fighter jets can also fly under the radar. I interviewed a radar expert, I asked him how high could they have flown at their highest so as not to be detected by the radar. They could then have flown 1.6 or 1.7 km at most. And then you actually come out above the clouds. It was a very cloudy day, and those clouds hung very low. So yes there may have been fighter jets. But then I have to add, it could have been Ukrainian fighter planes, but also Russian fighter planes. Because the Russians were accused of violating Ukrainian airspace. It has also been said that a Russian plane shot at a Ukrainian plane.

SH: The people who were on the committee of inquiry come from the countries you mentioned. Why was Russia not on the investigation team? In the beginning nobody knew anything yet, you start by saying we don’t know who the perpetrators are, so let’s investigate everyone involved, including Russia. Because why should the Ukrainians, who are not really known as reliable, including the Ukrainian secret services, why should you let them decide, and not the Russians. What was the argument for that, did the judge ask about it?

EB: The judge didn’t ask about that, but we have to make a distinction. There have been two major investigations. The first investigation was by our own Dutch Safety Board (OVV), and that was not an investigation into who the perpetrators are, but an investigation into how MH17 came down. Was it an accident, a comet impact, or if it was shot with what weapon. The Russians were involved in that investigation, they really were part of that investigation team, and Tjibbe Joustra, that was the one who led the OVV at that time, who was director, who also says that everyone worked very pleasantly with the Russians. They have cooperated very constructively, that they have provided information about the operation of such a BUK missile. But then came the criminal investigation into the perpetrators, the Russians also wanted to be involved again, because they were pointed to them anyway. But yes, the door has been slammed shut for them. There has never actually been an explanation given. I called the Public Prosecution Service, I asked why Ukraine and not Russia, and why all those other countries, why Belgium for example, or Australia. Then I received the answer that Russia was not involved in the disaster, the Ukrainians were, because it took place on Ukrainian territory, and also Malaysia, because it involved a Malaysian aircraft. And why then Belgium and the Netherlands, because most of the victims were Dutch, and there were also Belgian victims, some Australian victims. That was actually the explanation.

SH: Yes, so that’s not a real statement, but that’s the statement that’s been given?

EB: Yes. However, the Russians also cooperated in this investigation. If certain questions were asked, the Russians sometimes cooperated and sometimes did not.

SH: The real evidence, the irrefutable evidence, only on that basis can the judge make a decision. Now what is the evidence?

EB: (sighs) Yeah it depends if you take it as evidence or not. I don’t see it as proof, but the Public Prosecution Service does. There are several ‘evidence sources’, in quotation marks. You have eyewitnesses, you have forensic evidence, such as the material that was found. Then you have tapped telephone conversations from the separatists, which is also interesting, by the way, because what the Public Prosecution Service has received are tapped telephone conversations from the separatists, but no tapped conversations from the Ukrainian armed forces, whom of course also made telephone calls with each other before, during and after that disaster, but we didn’t see that in the trial. And then there is photographic evidence, photos and videos have been made of what would be a Russian BUK-TELAR, which was brought from Donetsk to Snishne.

SH: The place where the BUK was fired?

EB: Below Snishne you have a village of Pervomaiske, there you have an agricultural field where that missile is said to have been fired.

SH: Let’s go back to those audio recordings. Were those the original sound recordings that the Netherlands received?

EB: (laughs) Yeah, that’s a good question. I fell off my chair when I heard the following in court. The lawyers have repeatedly asked the Public Prosecution Service exactly what you are asking, were these original sound recordings. And so they got no answer. So then they said we want a technical investigation into those sound recordings to determine are they real and have they been cut or pasted or is it backdated and so on. So they couldn’t do that. And at the last minute when the file was almost closed, they still got the court to the point that there must be a technical investigation into these sound recordings, because as it turned out that it had not been investigated in any way. The NFI, the Netherlands Forensic Institute, had asked to conduct all kinds of forensic investigations, but it turned out that it did not have an expert in house to investigate this. So those sound recordings have been in the possession of the Public Prosecution Service for years, without having them investigated for authenticity by the NFI or anyone else.

SH: But that looks like ill will. Obviously, that’s the first thing you want to investigate, whether those recordings have been tampered with. Cutting and pasting, that’s what I did for years for the VPRO [ER editor: Dutch mainstream TV and radio]. So it is obvious for the Public Prosecution Service, but also for a judge, to ask whether this evidence has been tampered with.

EB: Yes (laughs exuberantly)

SH: What happened then?

EB: Yes, then the court ruled that if the NFI can’t do it, then someone else should do it. Then that case was handed over, which happened in August 2021, to a forensic institute in Lithuania.

SH: Lithuania, but they are vehemently anti-Russian.

EB: Yes haha, that’s what we are in the Netherlands too.

SH: But that’s nonsense, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re not independent.

EB: What would an independent country have been in your opinion?

SH: Well I don’t know, but at least not outspoken Russia haters.

EB: We’re talking about thousands of conversations, it really is a lot. But in the end fourteen conversations were sent on a USB stick, which are attributed to one of the four suspects, that name has already been mentioned, that is Oleg Pulatov.

EB: Oleg Pulatov, that is what he said on video, which was shown in court during the last session of the lawyers’ plea. So 14 conversations that are attributed to him, because he himself says yes, I do recognize my own voice, but whether I have had those conversations like that, I can’t remember, it’s all a long time ago. Those conversations were sent to Vilnius, the research institute. What was the outcome of the investigation, that no traces of cutting and pasting were found, but that it was not the original files…

SH: Well, these look like amateurs.

EB: (laughs) Yes, but the Public Prosecution Service didn’t even ask that question, so apparently neither did the court, or the investigating judge, but the lawyers had to bring this up. They said ok this is the outcome of the investigation, but we are still missing a few things in the conclusion of the investigation whether they are the original files or not. So it wasn’t the original files, plus it hadn’t been tested for voice cloning. We should also explain that: voice cloning is when they record your voice, or they record my voice, then they mess with it, and then they let you tell them that you killed your own mother or something. Anyway, this research institute also said we don’t have the resources to do such research.

SH: But as a judge you don’t accept that. Because he really has to be able to rely on evidence that the evidence has not been tampered with. Why did the judge accept that, did he give an explanation for it?

EB: We just don’t know if he has accepted that, we will hear that on November 17.

SH: You can say that, but this process has been going on for how long?

EB: Well the first court hearing was on March 9, 2020.

SH: So over two years. Then you can’t ignore that and say I’m going to pass judgment.

EB: Yes, I also had the impression that the judge was not very interested. Perhaps because the Public Prosecution Service had said that they had already proven the authenticity of those recordings in a different way. So if things were said in such a conversation that it was correct with, for example, a newspaper report. If it was said we have now taken over Marinovka, that is one of those villages, and then it turned out that the village had really been taken.

SH: But then again, it’s all possible, is this legally and conclusively proven?

EB: Yes, that is up to the judge. (laughs)

SH: But you doubt that…

EB: Yes if you don’t even have the original recordings at your disposal. You also have to understand that these recordings are made by the SBU, the Ukrainian secret service, and that service primarily serves the interests of its own country, of course.

SH: Yes, and we know how reliable that service is, not only in this case, but also in the provoked war with the Russians.

EB: Well you know the story of that Ukrainian journalist who was supposedly shot. A Ukrainian journalist was shot dead by the Russians. Photos of him were shown lying in a pool of blood, whom later turned out to be alive and well, it was just a false flag operation by the SBU.

SH: Yes as several have done.

EB: Even his wife thought he was really dead.

SH: One of the proofs is that butterfly-like prints have been found in the fuselage of MH17 and in the body of the pilot. One of the pilots. I read that story in an article of yours, which appeared in De Andere Krant [ER editor: We published it here: ], and you gave ample attention to this ‘evidence’. (finger quotes) What can be said about that. Are they from a BUK missile, those butterfly impacts?

EB: You do see here in this picture, two butterfly-shaped particles. Then you will see a particle in the top left that was found in the body of the captain. And at the bottom left you see a particle that was found in the cockpit. The Public Prosecution Service says this is proof that MH17 was shot down with a BUK missile that was equipped with a warhead of a certain type that contains these particles, butterfly-shaped particles.

SH: How many of those particles are in there?

EB: There are 1,870 butterfly-shaped particles in there.

SH: And they recovered two?

EB: Yes, then I also have to show you a picture of a warhead, because it doesn’t just have butterfly-shaped particles in it. This is such a warhead, which contains those particles, and then you see Bowtie in the bottom left, which are the butterfly-shaped particles, but it also contains particles of a different shape, which are Squares (bottom right) and Fillers, which are fillers that are between the particles. Yes indeed of those Bowties there are 1870 in a warhead, 2 of them were found, so you would say where is the rest, where are the other 1868. Well, the Public Prosecution Service has given the following explanation, they say: not all those particles hit the plane.

SH: How do they know?

EB: Well, because you can assume that when a warhead explodes, those particles go vertically, but there are also particles that go sideways.

SH: But you don’t know how it hit MH17?

EB: Well the Public Prosecution Service assumes that it was detonated to the left above the cockpit. [ER editor: He means Proximity fuze] You can tell by the damage. So they assume that not all the particles hit the plane, and there are quite a few particles that did hit the plane, but they fell out of the plane, because it already broke up in the air. The third explanation they have given, and I think that is the most implausible, is that those particles fell apart or deformed due to the explosion of that warhead and also the piercing of the plane. So of many particles that have been found in bodies and on the plane, the Public Prosecution Service now says that they originally had a butterfly shape. So they only lost that shape due to the explosion of the rocket and the piercing of the plane. But what those lawyers have now said, very cleverly, and in fact the Dutch Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) has in part supported it, is that the butterfly particles we showed may also have been distorted by the force of the explosion and penetration of the aircraft. So then you don’t know what the original shape of those particles was. So yes, what is the proof that it was a BUK missile.

AH: Yes, yes. So that is not legal and convincing.

EB: That is up to the judge, I do not think that is evidence.

SH: Any way you look at it, it’s a political process, because it takes place in an Umwelt (German: Broader view of the world) of us versus the Russians, and of course that plays out all the time. You have to be very clever in your shoes to say as a judge that the evidence is not enough. So he will be under enormous pressure. All those people who want the Russians to have done it, they have already decided for themselves that it is the Russians, they will not accept that it is not the Russians. At least not proven.

EB: Well, you can hope that the court can withstand that pressure, but it’s a valid concern you have. The lawyers have also said that, they actually just begged the court to give doubt a chance. A trial was actually conducted by media, so yes the newspapers and the media in the Netherlands, everyone is convinced it was the Russians. So what should you do as a court. And also the bereaved association, don’t forget that, that is also a kind of emotional sabotage that is carried out from that association. The next of kin also had the right to speak, and in the end you saw, although there were also relatives who left it a bit in the middle, but in the Netherlands we have the image of those next of kin, which Piet Ploeg, the chairman of the next of kin association who speaks on behalf of all relatives. I don’t know to what extent that is really the case, but that man is convinced it was the Russians. And he wants those four men convicted. Yes, the judge should also take that into account.

SH: And in the Netherlands we love victims, you can see that in all kinds of ways, victims are often right anyway, because they are victims, so that whole atmosphere is not a healthy one, in which the judge has to administer justice.

EB: Yes, from the side of the Public Prosecution Service, I think it is really a political process, yes. They have made no bones about it and used improper arguments to blacken the Russians.

EB: But we talked about question 1, was it a BUK missile. The most convincing evidence, I think, is this piece of evidence put forward by the Public Prosecution Service. That is the so-called green plug that was found in the rebate of the cockpit window. At the bottom right you see that thing, and above you see the place where it was found. It is said that it is a wad, and if you pull it apart, if you fold it apart, you get a part and that would be part of a BUK missile.

EB: That’s a BUK missile baseplate. You can find this part in the tail of the BUK missile, this part connects the BUK missile to the launch installation.

SH: Okay, and they found it in the cockpit window frame.

EB: In twisted form yes. And it was really clamped, so it can’t have been applied manually.

SH: No you don’t have to, you can also push it in, or hammer it in?

EB: At first glance I wouldn’t say that’s possible. But it is true that the wreckage has been laying there for an incredibly long time, it took four months before the Dutch finally started looking for wreckage there.

SH: So the wreckage may have been tampered with as well.

EB: Yes it could. It is very worrying, because there is also a piece of wreckage, we are talking about the nozzle or the engine casing, which was only found in the disaster area after nine months. It was shown very pontifically at a press conference of the Joint Investigation Team.

SH: Is this the particular weapon that fired and brought the plane down?

EB: Well that was very strongly suggested at the time, everyone thought okay this is the evidence.

SH: Well look at that head, it didn’t burst?

EB: No, yes, that’s also something (laughs). Because  I’ve seen pictures of BUK missiles fired and then that thing is completely worn out and fell apart. The Russians have also pointed out that it is very strange. So yes, they were only found nine months after the disaster in the disaster area by Dutch Military Police who were searching there.

SH: They came up with that. But a journalist, like me, would have said, wow, if that thing made those butterfly-shaped impacts, why isn’t that thing broken?

EB: Yes, yes. The whole room was filled with journalists, but no one asked that question.

SH: Seriously? It looks like operetta.

EB: But it gets crazier. Those Military Police did not find that thing on their own. They were pointed out by an unknown person who said, come with me, I have found something. So they were pointed to that place. And Pulatov’s lawyers naturally wanted to know who was the man who pointed out these two parts to the Military Police. Well, they were not allowed to know.

SH: Because secret?

EB: Yes secret yes.

SH: But the judge should have asked about that. Why is this secret.

EB: Yes this is a protected witness. That is someone who should fear that the Russians will shoot him.

SH: Who could speak anonymously in a closed session, but that didn’t happen?

EB: No, not even that was allowed. The judge was also not allowed to know who it was. But it gets even crazier. Because at that press conference, you see an Australian Police Officer, who made a call of look, there are serial numbers engraved on the inside of those parts, is there anyone who can tell us what those serial numbers mean. Then the Russian Ministry of Defense came and they said, we know that missile, because we delivered it to the Ukrainians in 1986. (laughs)

SH: And they could prove that with evidence?

EB: They still had the missile administration and they said come to Moscow and take a look, and they sent copies to the Netherlands. As far as I know, they haven’t been looking, by the way.

SH: And the judge accepted that?

EB: Well, what has the Public Prosecution Service finally done? They’ve said, okay, we’re not going to bring this up as evidence in the court case anymore. These parts have been dropped from the evidence, because the prosecutor said, we have not been able to prove that these missile parts landed in the area on July 17, 2014. They may have ended up in that area before or after that date. That is of course very wise of the Public Prosecution Service that they ultimately did not bring this up.

SH: But then, as a judge, you ask the question: you come here with ‘evidence’ and now you suddenly drop this evidence. Why are you omitting that evidence now? What was their motivation?

EB: Yes, maybe the judge will say something about that on November 17. I don’t know, but they didn’t ask.

SH: About those butterfly strikes. Another one has been found if I’m not mistaken? Maybe I’m confusing two things, but a journalist who was there, he put something there. Or there is a suspicion that he has put something down. What was that exactly?

EB: Ah yes. That was Jeroen Akkermans from RTL Nieuws. I wouldn’t dare claim that he himself placed such a butterfly particle on a piece of wreckage, but he shows on camera that he finds that butterfly-shaped particle there, he took it with him to the Netherlands. He had it examined by a British institute. Yes, it has been clearly demonstrated that it must have been deposited there. Because that wreckage they found it on, on satellite images you can see that the wreckage was upside down a few days before. Plus it was a piece of wreckage from way back in the passenger compartment, while that missile exploded near the front. So that particle could never have landed in that part of the plane, on that side of the wreckage.

SH: But why didn’t the researchers find that particle?

EB: Yes, for the reason I mentioned, that it took an incredibly long time for those Dutch people to send a forensic team to the Ukraine to recover those wreckage. It took four days for them to start, and nine months later they were still going.

SH: Why has it taken so long. If a journalist can walk around there, an investigator from the army, or the Military Police, could also walk around there.

EB: Yes, well everyone walked around there the first few days. The international press walked around there, the Ukrainians walked around there, the Malaysians walked around there, they were also one of the first on the spot. It was their plane. Why were the Malaysians there before the Dutch? That’s because those Malaysians who arrived in Kiev shortly after the disaster, and the Dutch too, to do research, and then Kiev said it’s much too dangerous to go there, you shouldn’t do that. The Dutch have taken some notice of this, the Malaysians have not, they went on a kind of secret mission, they say themselves, secretly departed from Kiev to that disaster area. They finally received the black boxes from those rebels there, in Donetsk. That was very frustrating for the Dutch. Yes it is an incredible story. I also describe it extensively in my book, because this is very well documented in another book by [doesn’t finish sentence]. And I am working on another book, which I hope to release soon.

But was it a BUK missile, we were still on that first question, right? Because there was also an important contraindication. Because what do you get if you have a BUK equipped with a warhead and butterfly-shaped particles in it, what happens if you shoot at an aircraft with that, what kind of impact do you get, you would say butterfly-shaped impact holes. Because that appears from a test that Almaz-Antey has done. Almaz-Antey is the Russian manufacturer of those BUK missiles, which have conducted experiments with the Illusion, a discarded airliner. They shot with a BUK missile at the Illusion, you get all kinds of butterfly-shaped impacts.


EB: Not all butterfly-shaped impact holes, because at the bottom you see them highlighted by the way, you don’t just get butterfly-shaped impact holes, because as I showed earlier, you also have square particles and round particles. But yes, no butterfly-shaped impact holes were found on the wreckage of the MH17. In fact, all the research institutes that carried out research on behalf of the JIT agreed on this. So also the Dutch and the Belgians, and so on. Everyone agreed, there are no butterfly-shaped impact holes on the wreckage.

There were angry tongues, who said yes it was the Russians, they did carry out that experiment, you can also see that on screen, there is a video of them shooting at that plane, then they stopped filming, and then they started working with tools to create those butterfly-shaped holes. But it turned out during the court case that the Joint Investigation Team also carried out such an experiment, they shot at witness plates with such a BUK missile, and yes they did not get any butterfly-shaped impact holes. So I think that’s a major contraindication, that if it was a BUK missile, that it wasn’t a BUK missile with a warhead with butterfly particles in it, then it could have been another kind of BUK missile.

SH: Ok, we have another ‘evidence’ (makes air quotes). Those are the photos taken of the launch site, or at least what is claimed to be the launch site. You also have an image of that.



EB: Yes, not only the Russians had BUK missiles, but also the Ukrainians. Information from our own Military and Security Service (MIVD) showed that they were also present in that area, that is, in the east of the Ukraine. This picture is a visualization of the Public Prosecution Service, in green and in red you see the Ukrainian BUK installations, where they were according to the MIVD, based on information from Western intelligence services and NATO partners. In red are BUK installations that were out of order, that were broken or non-functioning. In the green are installations that are active or could be used. The red circle is the launch area of ​​the BUK installation, so [the fatal BUK missile] should have been inside that circle. But then you see the BUK installations outside that circle, then you would say that those Ukrainian installations could not have hit that plane. But this is not an image from July 17, this is an image from around that date, so broadly speaking, in the weeks around July 17, and those BUK installations are movable, they have caterpillar tracks, they can move with their own power, but also trucks can transport them. So yes, in theory, a Ukrainian BUK installation could have been there. If you assume that a BUK missile brought down MH17, you do not yet know whether it was a Russian or Ukrainian missile.

And then you come to the question of what was the launch site of that BUK missile. Within that red circle, and especially in the east of it, there was fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and separatists. You see the border strip there, it is close to the Russian border.

SH: Because we have to add that, because those battles, which started before 2014, where the Ukrainians with mainly neo-Nazi troops went on a rampage there, killing at least 14,000 people. That war did not start when the Russians moved in there, but it had been going on for years without the Dutch media paying attention to it. And don’t even mention it today. That is not favorable.

EB: That’s telling a half-truth. Lying by omission. What we see here is a picture that was posted on Twitter on the day of the disaster, a few hours after the disaster.

SH: By whom?

EB: We don’t know. (laughs) As with most of the photos and videos we’ve seen.

SH: But how can you be sure it was recorded on that day?

EB: Let me first say what you see in the picture, which is a plume of smoke, a white plume of smoke. It was immediately said that this is the contrail of a BUK missile, from the fatal BUK missile that hit the MH17. There is a suspicion who posted the photo, but we do know who took the photo, that was Pavel Aleinikov, who took the photo from the top of an apartment building on the outskirts of Torez, which is 12.3 km from the spot where that missile would have been fired. Based on the environmental characteristics that you see in this photo, you can then estimate where the base of the plume’s underside lies. We have to add, according to the photographer’s statement, he would have taken the photo 5 minutes after he heard a loud bang. The wind was from the east, which has affected that plume of smoke, so the base of the plume should probably be located further east (or west?). But it seems that this was not taken into account in the research. They only looked at where the bottom of the smoke plume is in the photo. Then if you search the area, it was two journalists on July 21 or July 22, who went looking in the area that they thought is about where the bottom of the plume was.

SH: Not Dutch journalists?


EB: No it was a Brit and an American. They were transported by taxi. And then they came to a field that they saw had been on fire. At the bottom you see a satellite photo taken on July 16 the day before the disaster, and at the top a photo taken on July 21. Intermediate days it was cloudy so there are no satellite images there, although there is still a black and white photo of July 20, which shows the same as the photo of the 21st. Then you see at the top that a large part of the agricultural field is blackened. So there was a fire there.

SH: But not on the day MH17 crashed?

EB: No there is no satellite image of that. So you could say a fire must have started in the field somewhere between July 16 and July 20. Then the idea is that the fire was caused by the launch of the BUK missile, because there will be a large jet of fire that can set things on fire. Friend and foe agree that a BUK missile can do that. But something else has also been found in the field, those are track marks, caterpillar tracks.


EB: On the right you see that black and white image from July 20. An arrow indicates a track trail that was not there on July 16. It is said that it comes from that BUK-TELAR, which drove into the field a bit and then fired that missile.

SH: But that could also be a tractor?

EB: Well it’s an agricultural field, so yes. In addition to being an agricultural field where all kinds of agricultural vehicles drove around, there was also a lot of fighting. So there were also other vehicles, tanks and other equipment. But yes, is it perhaps a track of a tractor or a combine harvester, because they have a slightly wider track. Well, an image analyst from our own Ministry of Defense looked at it and said that track is wider than 3 meters, and there are no agricultural vehicles that have a track wider than 3 meters, and the track of a BUK-TELAR is 3.25 meters. So he thinks it probably traced to a BUK-TELAR. I once gave a lecture about this, and then a farmer from that room shouted that such wide agricultural vehicles do exist.

SH: And certainly in the Ukraine where they have a lot of agriculture. And on a large scale with huge fields. So it doesn’t seem very strong to me. But besides, whatever strikes me, see if it’s been a tank, why did it back up, why didn’t it turn.

EB: Yes I agree with you. I describe that in my book, that is an explanation I make, this agricultural field was covered with wheat stalks. Because maybe this track was there before July 16, this track might have been there for a long time, but because the place has caught fire, and those wheat stalks are out of sight, then suddenly that track that was there appears, then it emerges on those images.

SH: Haven’t there been other fires around there? Is this the only fire found there?

EB: Well, that’s a very obvious question, you might have to be a dissident journalist to come up with that question. I can also show that, because it was a war zone, and there was fierce fighting. I have an image of what those farm fields looked like, near the field we just saw.

EB: Look the first was what the fields looked like before July 16, and the next one is what the fields looked like on August 1, so two weeks later. So here you see that in those two weeks fires have raged everywhere, which were not there before.

SH: And there have been no BUK missiles there.

EB: So yes if you zoom out, there had been a few fires before July 16, but much less than on August 1. So it is not surprising that this one agricultural field has been on fire. This area was in the line of fire, there was fierce fighting.

SH: But it could also be that those farmers, to clear the field, set the place on fire. To get rid of all that mess.

EB: Right. That is quite common there, we used to do that too, but due to all kinds of legislation that is no longer allowed. But in the Ukraine they probably still do that to get rid of weeds, or to get rid of agricultural waste.

SH: Yeah, this isn’t very strong, is it?

EB: Now about that track, which would then be wider than three meters. I asked the Public Prosecution Service how did you measure that, because no one went with a ruler or folding rule.

SH: You don’t have to, you can also see that with satellite images.

EB: Yes ok, but can you really determine that exactly within a few centimeters. I asked. They said we did that with software, which software I didn’t get an answer to. But I’d like to check it out myself. Whether it is correct.

SH: Do we need to make it clear again that you are independent as a journalist. So you have nothing to prove or deny as a judge has to do.

EB: Well on wikipedia it says that I am directed by Russia’s military intelligence service, GRU. I wouldn’t even know how to receive money from them because all payment traffic has been shut down.

SH: Let’s face it, many journalists don’t get the time to investigate this in detail because they have another piece to write tomorrow.

EB: Yes, that’s how it is for me, if I had started peeling flower bulbs, I would have become wiser financially than by publishing a book. Then I would have earned far more. Much to my dismay, I had to live as a monk to make it happen.

SH: So far it seems to me that the Public Prosecution Service is putting forward a lot that cannot be conclusively proven. What do you expect the judge to do?

EB: We have already talked about the enormous pressure that is exerted on the court, from politics, from the media, from the bereaved association.


EB: Yes, maybe.

SH: Look, we have a minister, Mrs. Kaag, who we literally heard say that we are de facto living in wartime. Namely in wartime with the Russians.

EB: Yes, Rutte also said that. ‘That war there, that is also our war’.

SH: Indeed. We deliver tanks, all kinds of Howitzers, we deliver information too. So in other words, that also plays a part. So if we are now at war with the Russians, de facto, according to the Ministry, not according to me, then this process is irrevocably a political process.

EB: Yes, there must be at least one Russian responsible.

SH: So what do you expect?

EB: On the one hand there is political pressure, but on the other hand there is also pressure from the lawyers of that Pulatov, two Dutch lawyers. If Pulatov is found guilty, then there will be an appeal, those lawyers will not leave it at that. The court does not want that either. So I think the court is going to say […]

SH: Why does the court not feel like it, it should strive for truth.

EB: I expect them to do that, but they are human too of course. But I think they have little interest in an appeal. So I think they’re going to acquit Pulatov, and they’re going to sentence the other three to life, or perhaps a lesser sentence. Because then everyone will be satisfied, then Rutte will be satisfied, the mainstream media will be satisfied, the surviving relatives’ association will be satisfied, plus the lawyers and Pulatov will be satisfied too. Win win.

SH: But for people who are serious about this case, it must have left a bitter taste that there was no actual search for irrefutable evidence. If a journalist comes up with so-called evidence, which was apparently planted there afterwards, then as a judge you have to think, all kinds of things are being cheated.

EB: That rocket tube they left behind with that photo of that conference, then you think nine months later they still find it, then you also start to think, that might have been put there.

SH: And at the same time, a judge like that is like a journalist I suppose, who wants to know exactly what it is. But you think the pressure is too great to make an independent judgment?

EB: (deep breathe) Well I hope not. I can’t look into the heads of those judges, it’s true, at times they made an expert impression on me.

SH: How many judges are there?

EB: There is a trial judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, that you mentioned. Then there are three other judges. But yes, I also think that they have a lot of research questions … Look, the defense has been given the opportunity to conduct additional research in the past two years, but they always had to ask permission from the court. So if they wanted to cross-examine a particular witness, they had to ask permission.

SH: Because?

EB: Yes, apparently that’s how it works in a criminal case. Not a single witness has appeared on screen, not even a single expert witness during the entire process. This all happened in private in the chamber of the examining magistrate. All those witnesses were interrogated there and spoke to expert witnesses. Whenever the defense had certain investigative questions, or wanted further investigation, it had to be submitted to the court, then the Public Prosecution Service was given the opportunity to oppose it. They did so in the vast majority of cases. Then they said: yes court it has all been properly investigated, so there is no need for those lawyers to ask about it. Well in the vast majority of cases the court has said we agree with the Public Prosecution Service, witnesses who testify that it is unnecessary to interrogate them, or it is unnecessary to have that report to ask questions about it. So in that respect I don’t have a good impression of that court. The lawyers called about two hundred witnesses, but in the end they only spoke to five.

SH: And what was the motivation for not calling many more witnesses?

EB: There were a lot of different reasons given there. What lawyers wanted to do was find out if alternative scenarios are possible. So whether it was perhaps a Ukrainian BUK installation.

SH: Which makes sense, because the judiciary thinks that’s a fair process. That you rule out that it couldn’t be any other way.

EB: Yes. Then the court said that is not necessary, because all you have to do is prove that your client didn’t do what he is accused of. For example, that he had nothing to do with the delivery of a BUK missile. The court did not want to cooperate with a follow-up investigation into alternative scenarios. All you lawyers have to do is prove that your client has nothing to do with the offenses charged against him.

SH: The last question. The fact that the Ukrainian secret service was involved in that investigation is also not very encouraging. We know what they’ve been up to. We also know that all kinds of fake operations are organized during the war. The media accepts that, but if you are an independent journalist, then you think yes, I am working in a profession, and not to make propaganda.

EB: Well the program Nieuwsuur (TV), they got their hands on a hard disk with tapped conversations. Then I asked Gert-Jan Dennekamp, ​​that is the journalist who got hold of the hard disc, it turns out that no technical investigation has been carried out into those conversations, you now have that disk in your hands, send it to an expert to figure it out. That’s a nice job for journalism. You have evidence in your hands, which is said to be the original files. Have it checked out by a forensic expert. He didn’t. I say it is the SBU, you know what they are capable of. Well, he didn’t say who gave him that disc, but he has good connections with the Ukrainian authorities. So yes. He denied that it had not been investigated by the Public Prosecution Service, the authenticity of those intercepted conversations.

SH: That’s how the media works.

EB: I told him, point it out to me where it said it was technically researched. Well it has not been investigated, it turned out on November 1, 2021 during the court hearing.



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