UPDATED OCTOBER 6
Confusion over data that the Finnish government allegedly withheld from Dutch investigators regarding the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, has caused an international controversy.
According to a report in Helsingin Sanomat, Finland prevented researchers from the Dutch led Joint Investigative Team (JIT), who investigated the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 over Eastern Ukraine, from accessing data from a Finnish experimental detonation of a BUK Missile.
However, Finnish leaders later clarified, telling reporters that all data from a test explosion of a BUK missile in Finland was passed along to the Dutch government, which failed to pass along to the JIT.
JIT released its findings earlier this week, stating that the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing 298 civilians, was of Russian origin.
Russia immediately dismissed the report which could lead to international law suits against Russian citizens and its government. Vladimir Putin’s press spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said the “whole story is unfortunately surrounded by a huge amount of speculation and unqualified, unprofessional information.”
Dutch investigation team leader Gerrit Thiry told HS that they “have not received permission from the Finnish Government to share the results with the international research team.”
“We have been waiting for quite a while,” he said. “We hope to get permission to share that information with the international research group.”
The lack of cooperation conflicts with a UN Security Council resolution which requires all countries to provide assistance in the civil and criminal investigations of the event.
The HS report adds that Finnish missile test was held in secret and was kept from Parliament and the members of the country’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees.
Finland acquired the Russian-built BUK missile system in 1996 from Russia to repay debts owed by the former Soviet government.
The primary findings of the Dutch investigative team were:
- The BUK missile that downed MH17 was fired from a field near the town of Snizhne which was under the control of Russian supported fighters.
- The Buk came from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine. Video and images who that it was accompanied by “armed men in uniform”.
- Witnesses near the launch site reported hearing “a very loud noise”. They also saw a large plume of smoke.
Russia has criticized the conclusions of the investigators as being politically biased.
JIT Investigation Presentation of Findings
Apparently the result data from the test in Finland was fully shared. (The investigators were present in the test to begin with.) What was withheld was raw technical information about the Buk system — mechanical and electronic specifications, field manuals, operating procedures, and so on — because that information is covered by non-disclosure clauses in the purchase agreement, which Finland chose to honor.
Additionally it was less than clear who exactly in The Netherlands is asking for the information and in what official capacity. In a case like this you want to go strictly by the (international) book to i) not poison the investigation and possible subsequent tribunal with sloppy procedure, and ii) not unduly increase the pressure in your neighbor relations when they are already near the boiling point. You go all the way but by the book, if you’re Finland and outside alliances.
Results of the tests have been fully shared with the Dutch police.
No decision has been made on the request to share the data with JIT, according to president Niinistö since it was assumed that the data will be shared.
A formal decision will be made.
Contrary to the earlier commenter, no data has so far been withheld. There is a new request for technical information sent to the Finnish police, which has not yet been decided on. The Finnish Ministry of Justice will send a delegation to the Netherlands to inquire about the request & why all the additional technical data is needed. The delegation is likely to include also ppl from the Finnish Defence Ministry and/or Defence Forces.
After that a decision on the new request will be taken.
International cooperation in criminal matters, as gathering evidence, are normally kept secret until trial and are not a matter for parliament.