13 Apr 2018 20:30

Evidence submitted by Russia to MH17 inquiry team ignored or used selectively - Lavrov

MOSCOW. April 13 (Interfax) - Moscow has respect for the independence of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which is probing the MH17 crash, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with the Dutch counterpart on Friday.

"A lot has been said about the ongoing investigation of the crash of Malaysian Airlines' MH17 flight which was shot down in Donbas in summer 2014. We have given a detailed account of the measures taken by the Russian government and the Almaz-Antey company to share all the information that we have for the purpose of an objective and impartial inquiry," Lavrov said.

Russia "has noted the need for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2166, which requires regular notification of the Security Council about progress in this investigation," he said.

"We have agreed to carry on this conversation with full respect for what the Dutch colleagues have told us about independence of the investigation team. We respect independence and believe this does not mean that any facts possessed by the investigators or hitherto overlooked by them will be ignored," Lavrov said.

"Given the lively interest from Dutch and Russian journalists, and considering the mention of Resolution 2166, I want to remind that we were among the proponents of drafting and adopting this resolution, which demanded a thorough, objective inquiry into the tragedy that happened to MH17 flight, and ordered regular reporting to the Security Council on how this inquiry progresses," Lavrov said.

"From the Dutch government, we only received one letter, of the most generic content with no specific facts. This was in the summer of 2015. The Security Council has since received no information," Lavrov said.

"Also, despite this resolution, the UN secretary-general never reported on what is happening, though he has the obligation to do so in accordance with the Security Council's instruction," Lavrov said.

"We have repeatedly voiced our concern over how this investigation was organized, and one of our initial questions, at the stage when the JIT was formed, was: why wasn't Malaysia invited to it?" the minister said.

"There was no reply, but Malaysia got only invited to this group six months after it was formed. Thank God, at least that was done. As we say here: better late than never," Lavrov said.

"Secondly, we really helped with the investigation during its technical stage, and we continue doing so now when the criminal inquiry is going on. We reply without exception to all queries from Dutch prosecutors as part of legal assistance. We passed on a significant amount of information, including - I will especially stress this - the primary unprocessed data from radio-locating observation of the aerial situation literally at the moment of the crash. This data clearly show from which direction a missile could have flown up and from which it could not," Lavrov said.

"And yet, our facts, our remarks and comments are not fully taken into account by the JIT, and the material we provide is taken into account either superficially or selectively, or simply disregarded," Lavrov said.

"I mentioned the data of objective radio-locating control; they cannot be forged, cannot be altered, and they clearly showed no missile from where this group thinks one was launched. In reply - and the reply came after a very prolonged period of time - we were told that this is not so, that there is a couple of independent experts (whose names were withheld from us) who, after analyzing our objective radio-locating control data, declared that our radars simply failed to see the missile and could not see it because it was flying fast. To a specialist, the whole absurdity of this claim is evident," Lavrov said.

"So, of course, when the independent prosecutor conducting the inquiry, in response to the scientific, verified, objective data we hand over to him, sends us anonymous denials of the sort I've mentioned, this raises questions, particularly against the backdrop of continual accusations that we are trying to divert the inquiry onto a false trail," Lavrov said.

"Meanwhile, the JIT has had no questions, for instance for Ukraine regarding its input to the inquiry, although to this day none of the Ukrainian air traffic controllers who were on duty on that day, has been questioned," Lavrov said. "The Ukrainian data of radio-locating observation were not received by investigators, and what also raises a question is that the Dutch authorities officially stated that the question as to why Ukraine hadn't closed its airspace - and many asked that question - that this question was not a subject matter of the current JIT investigation," the Russian foreign minister said.