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Journalist, Activist on JIT Report: Poor Evidence, Bias and Convenient Timing

© Sputnik / Vitaly Belousov / Go to the photo bankMembers of a joint investigation team present the preliminary results of the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 , in Nieuwegein, on September 28, 2016
Members of a joint investigation team present the preliminary results of the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 , in Nieuwegein, on September 28, 2016 - Sputnik International
JIT investigators have announced that they have hard evidence that the missile system that shot down MH17 over Eastern Ukraine belonged to Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defense has slammed the report as being based on "old fakes." Sputnik discussed the new "revelations" with political activist Anneke de Laaf and journalist Joost Niemoller

'No Evidence, Just Speculations'

Dutch political activist, Anneke de Laaf, who has been following the MH17 investigation from the very beginning, said that the new evidence presented by the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) can hardly be called "relevant and significant."

She pointed out that essentially all that was shown were photos of Russian air defenses being moved closer to the border with Ukraine — a logical precautionary move in case the conflict were to spill across the border. The activist went on to say that it is often the simplest explanation that is correct, according to the principle of Occam's razor.

READ MORE: Investigators: MH17 Downed by Missile Launcher "From Russia", Won't Show Proof

Commenting on the alleged further movements of Russian military vehicles presented by the JIT, she stressed that all that was presented was "animation." Most real life photos depict Russian BUK systems on Russian territory. The only photo allegedly showing a Russian BUK on Ukrainian soil was the one presented previously by the Atlantic Council affiliated research outlet Bellingcat, noted Anneke de Laaf.

Another strange detail that wasn't explained, according to the political activist, is why Russia would send a single part of a BUK complex (which consists of a command post, radar detection and guidance systems, in addition to the missile system itself) to Ukrainian fighters in the Eastern Ukraine.

"JIT wants us to believe that the Russians moved all those BUK systems shown in the various video clips around and then sent just one part of the four part BUK system secretively to Ukraine (without the American satellite in the sky above noticing […] to a group of amateur fighters, members of the Ukrainian resistance, even though there was no military necessity to do so," she said.

Dutch writer and journalist Joost Niemoller also suggested that so far, the investigation team has come up with speculations, rather than evidence.

"They can't come up with the evidence, because there isn't any evidence […] I haven't seen any real evidence so far. I only have seen speculation. What else can they do? The Dutch and Ukrainians can't do anything else than come up with these videos from the internet, giving names, like Bellingcat […] just giving impressions," he said.

'Chain of Evidence Has Been Severely Compromised'

Anneke de Laaf pointed out that the initial report by the JIT said that there were "three tiny pieces of metal" that reportedly belonged to the missile that allegedly downed MH17, but now the JIT claims to have found more particles inside victims' bodies. The political activist recalled that at first, the Dutch government refused to take steps to protect the scene of the crash, which means that the chain of evidence might have been severely compromised and that any person could have planted anything at the crash site.

READ MORE: Bellingcat Allegations of Russia's Role in MH17 Crash Based on Fakes — MoD

She also expressed her skepticism at the findings of BUK parts near the alleged launch site — in her opinion, it is no wonder such parts were found since at least one warring side has such weaponry at its disposal. De Laaf also remarked upon that these parts were provided by anonymous source.

Joost Niemoller found the fact that the Buk parts shown during the JIT presentation were almost intact, which is curious. He believes that the propulsion chamber of the missile would have been more significantly damaged. Niemoller also noted the vague wording when the JIT described the location of their key finding.

"They didn't say at the press-conference where and when this part was found. They said only [that] it was found somewhere in East Ukraine, which is very fake in my eyes. When you'll go to a judge he will laugh at you and say come back when you have better information, because this is absolutely nothing," he said.

'Still No Convincing Evidence That BUK Was Used to Shoot Down MH17'

De Laaf is also skeptical of the part of the report about BUK "fingerprints." She noted that their proof is based on "rather blurred pictures and more animations." The political activist also slammed a controversial part of the JIT report where they claim to have compared all existing BUK systems to determine which one was used and, at the same time, complained that Russia isn't cooperating with them. She questioned how the JIT was able obtain access to Russian BUKs for comparison, if Russia wasn't cooperating with them (although Moscow has repeatedly offered its assistance in the investigation).

READ MORE: Russian Ambassador to Australia: Accusations on MH17 Crash ‘Planned Provocation'

The political activist stressed that even if one believes the allegation that the Russian BUK was in Donetsk, the JIT doesn't present any evidence that it was a BUK missile that downed the MH17, but rather takes it for granted. De Laaf added that the JIT doesn't even specify the type of BUK that was allegedly used, which is odd, as the team had claimed to know the exact BUK that was responsible. All this brings her to the conclusion that the JIT urging witnesses to come forward due to a lack of actual, hard evidence proving their theory.

Joost Niemoller also remarked on the fact that the JIT is actually concentrated on a single scenario for the MH17 disaster instead of looking into all the possibilities.

"What happens with the JIT is that they said there were four scenarios and they abandoned three of the scenarios — that it was shot down by an airplane, the other scenario that it was shot down by Ukraine and about these two they said 'we are not investigating these scenarios anymore'. So they just stopped looking into it. They openly said […] 'we are only looking at one option'," the journalist said.

'Presentation Would Make More Sense on MH17 Anniversary, but World Cup Will Be Over Then'

Anneke de Laaf believes that the timing of the JIT report was not picked at random. She recalled that the Netherlands and Australia (and not Malaysia) immediately held Russia responsible for the crash. According to her, the diplomatic moves, such as summoning the Russian ambassador to Netherlands, was to be expected and that if the country had qualified for the World Cup, it would most likely have boycotted it.

The political activist pointed out that Russia was "vilified endlessly" ahead of another major event — the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and believes the same thing is happening now.

"The MH17 anniversary is on July 17, it would have made more sense for JIT to present this animation around that time. But the World Cup is over then. I don't believe in such coincidences," she said.

De Laaf is confident that the presentation will hurt Russia "in the court of public opinion," since it looks like "a sound, logical and legal argument." According to her, people who mainly read or watch mainstream media will believe that Russia is responsible for the MH17 crash.

The views and opinions expressed are those of speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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