MEPs updated on MH17 crash investigation

EU ambassador says Dutch government 'refrains from any speculation' on causes of tragedy.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

02 Dec 2014

The flight, which was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last July, is presumed to have been shot down as it flew over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists, claiming the lives of all 298 people on board.

Dutch permanent representative to the EU Pieter De Gooijer stressed that "until the investigation has been completed, no definite conclusions will be drawn", adding, "the Dutch government refrains from any speculation […] as long as the investigation is ongoing". He said a result was not expected until "mid 2015 - not to establish culpability, but to establish [the] reasons behind the crash".

However, the permanent representative did concede that it was clear a technical error was not to blame. A criminal investigation is currently underway, with the Netherlands, Ukraine, Australia and Belgium all working together.

The Dutch official explained that a lot of work remains to be done, as "nine victims have yet to be positively identified [and] some areas of the crash site have not yet been searched due to the security situation".

He added that "renewed access to the crash site might be necessary" and that "some elements from the crash site will be repatriated to the Netherlands".

"Until the investigation has been completed, no definite conclusions will be drawn" - Pieter de Gooijer

Esther de Lange, a vice-chair of parliament's EPP group, said "it is of vital importance that the investigation continues, victims and their personal belongings are brought home to friends and family, and that the offenders of this horrible act are brought to justice".

Javier Couso Permuy, a vice-chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee, admitted he was "surprised by the caution" in identifying the causes of the crash, as "it seems clear the aircraft was shot down". However, he praised the Dutch government's prudence in establishing a culprit, as "sometimes we are too hasty to point the finger of blame - we shall wait until the end of the investigation".

Regarding the role parliament would have to play, de Gooijer told MEPs that "at one point during the criminal investigation, there will be requests for legal assistance going out to third countries - it will be valuable if parliament keeps an eye out on this process and indicates that it expects countries […] to live up to their obligations".

In addition, seeing as "it may be necessary at times to go back to the crash site, but that continues to be difficult because of the safety situation on the ground - it is difficult as the ceasefire continues to be broken", he called on parliament to "continue to insist to all parties to agree to the Minsk agreement".

This agreement was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic last September, in an attempt to put a stop to the ongoing war in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

The Dutch permanent representative warned that the investigation "is a complex task which requires patience" and said it may take longer than a year to reach a conclusion.

However, he underlined that "the Dutch government spares no efforts" and said, "we will not cease until we have reached our goals - we owe this to the victims".

 

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