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:Government of the Netherlands

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Investigation by the Dutch Safety Board
The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) conducted three investigations into the downing of flight MH17.

The three investigations by the OVV
The OVV investigated:

the circumstances surrounding the downing of flight MH17;
the decision-making process regarding flight routes; and
the procedure for compiling passenger lists.
In October 2015 the OVV published
International investigation
The international investigation into the circumstances of the crash was conducted in accordance with the international requirements and methods set out in the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The OVV investigated the downing of the flight and did everything in its power to obtain clarity about the cause of the crash. The OVV also issued recommendations to prevent any repeat of such a disaster.

The OVV made no pronouncements about guilt or liability. These matters were not addressed in the Boards investigation.

Recovering the victims remains and personal belongings
The repatriation mission for MH17 is complete. All human remains that were found have been brought back to the Netherlands. A year after completion of the repatriation process  a total of 296 victims had been identified. Two people have not yet been identified. It is possible that additional remains or personal belongings may be found in the future. Agreements have been made with the local authorities and local residents about how such items will be recovered.


Crash site area currently unsafe
News item | 27-07-2014 | 14:30

There is currently no safe passage available for the team of 30 Dutch forensic experts who have travelled to Ukraine to investigate the MH17 disaster.

Fighting in the region means that the situation is still too unstable to allow the investigators to work safely at the crash site. The Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) has therefore decided that the Dutch team will remain in Donetsk until further notice.

No military repatriation mission to Ukraine
News item | 27-07-2014 | 22:55

On Sunday 27 July at 17:30 Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a press conference on the Ukraine air disaster. This followed an extra cabinet meeting in the Catshuis. 'Over the past few days we have thoroughly examined all options for bringing the victims' remains back to the Netherlands from the crash site as quickly and safely as possible. We have come to the conclusion that gaining the military upper hand by means of an international mission in this region is unrealistic.'


The Netherlands is united in grief with those who have lost their loved ones. The MH17 disaster is now imprinted on the collective conscience of the Dutch nation and that of all those countries whose nationals also died in the crash. At the same time, we all realise that there is still so much to be done. As you know, most of the ministers are in almost permanent contact. And today, for the 2nd time since the terrible disaster, I decided to call a cabinet meeting. The previous meeting was last Wednesday evening. It is not customary to meet on a Sunday, but sometimes the circumstances dictate otherwise.

Before I go into further detail about today's cabinet meeting, I would like to inform you of the latest news on the crash site and the surrounding area. The Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) is monitoring the situation and determining on a daily basis whether access can be gained to the site. This morning it decided that it would indeed be possible, allowing 27 Dutch and 11 Australian professionals to search for victims at the scene. However, during the course of the morning, the OSCE issued new information indicating fighting in the vicinity of the crash site. The decision was therefore made to refrain from visiting the crash site today as it was considered unsafe. Every day we look at whether we can travel to the site, and the situation is monitored throughout the day to determine whether it is safe to remain there. We thought we would be able to do so today, but new information reached us in the morning and we are doing our best to make our work as safe as possible.

At the same time, we are examining whether the information we receive on a daily basis - the information we use to decide whether people can go to the crash site - gives us cause to assume that the entire context is changing. Today's fighting appears to be heavier than during the past week. We do not have any further details or any further reports as of yet, but initial reports suggest that heavy fighting is under way. I am unable to say at this point whether this will change the context in which we are working on our main objective - finding the remaining victims at the crash site and bringing them back to the Netherlands.

So that is the latest situation. Now let me go back to today's cabinet meeting. We looked at what we need to do in order to achieve our number 1 priority which, as I just mentioned, is repatriating all the remains still at the scene and, where possible, the victims' personal belongings. That is our goal. Our actions over the past week or so have focused on doing just that, even though most of the remains are now back in the Netherlands. In fact, we have to work hard right now, as time is not on our side. 

Over the past few days we have thoroughly examined all options for bringing the victims' remains back to the Netherlands from the crash site as quickly and safely as possible. During this time we have been in close contact with our most important partners: Australia and Malaysia. The crash area is currently held by separatists who have heavily armed forces operating close to the Russian border. We have come to the conclusion that gaining the military upper hand by means of an international mission in this region is unrealistic, even if we were to opt for large-scale military intervention. Using military force to secure the crash site may seem to be the right thing to do to so many people, including myself, but we have concluded that it will not help us achieve our highest priority, and that is repatriating the victims as soon as possible.

We have spoken at length with our international partners and decided that an international military mission of this kind would bring with it a real risk of us becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine. The conflict would then acquire an international dimension, which would only serve to further escalate the situation. So the success of the repatriation mission depends on preventing an escalation in the area. The less potential the mission has for escalation, the better our chances of completing our task quickly and thoroughly.

The government has therefore decided to continue the same approach, while ramping up its efforts. Every day we will assess the security situation, just as we did today, to determine whether we can work at the crash site. Recent days, especially today, have shown that this is unfortunately not always possible. But we simply have a great responsibility towards our people who are carrying out this important work there.

Given our chosen approach and our objective, there will be no need to invoke article 100 of the Dutch Constitution. We will press ahead on the same course, expanding our mission step by step and working very closely with Australia and Malaysia. In the days ahead we will establish the legal arrangements that need to be made between the Netherlands and Ukraine. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop are travelling to Kyiv this evening in an attempt to accelerate the parliamentary proceedings on the international agreement that would form the basis for the international mission. The political dialogue they are conducting in Ukraine could of course also help create more favourable conditions for those on the ground. To avoid any misunderstanding, I should stress that even without an international agreement with Ukraine, the people who are already there will be able to carry out their work once the security situation is sufficiently stable.

A lot has happened over the past few days. Last Monday the train carrying the victims' remains was finally able to depart, and the air bridge is now operational. As a result, another flight landed in Eindhoven yesterday, with so many people paying their respects both at the airport and along the route to Hilversum.

Unfortunately, it is most likely that not all of the victims were carried back to the Netherlands. That's why we now have 63 people from our national police force and our military and border police working in Ukraine, ready to travel to the crash site. In today's cabinet meeting we decided that we will strengthen that capacity step by step. Each time we will examine the options and determine how many people we need on the ground. On top of the numbers already present, Australia has made 50 police officers available, with a further 100 people in reserve. Malaysia is also prepared to send 68 police to Ukraine during the course of this week.

The mission is being headed by Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg, who will provide the media with regular updates on the progress being made. Angus Houston will oversee Australia's efforts. Both will operate from Kyiv, with support from the Ministry of Defence, which will be responsible for logistics and operations in the crash area. They have the people and the means to do so, enabling those on the ground to carry out their work as effectively as possible.

In the parliamentary debate I mentioned that work in the area is not without risk. Experts and equipment will be sent to the site to provide first aid and transport to hospital should any incidents occur. Together with Australia we will decide whether any additional medical capacity is required.

We have just set out our plans in a letter to parliament, which is of course also available to you. This repatriation mission will end 3 weeks from today. And I repeat, the commander in the region is continuously reviewing the security situation in consultation with the OSCE, which is in contact with all parties at all levels. The commander is of course also receiving input from the security services. When the circumstances allow, we will get down to work with as many people as possible. We believe that this approach will offer us the best chance of achieving our top priority, and that is bringing back the remaining victims.

Thank you.

No safe passage available to crash site MH17
News item | 28-07-2014 | 13:34

This morning there is no safe passage available to the site in Eastern Ukraine where flight MH17 has crashed.

The motorcade with Dutch and Australian experts came to a halt near Monopepke because of explosions and a warning of fighting.

Press statement by Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission.

Press statement by Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission
News item | 28-07-2014 | 18:46

This morning a team of 38 Dutch and 12 Australian experts headed out to the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine for the 2nd time to investigate the area for the 1st time and search for remains and personal belongings. Unfortunately, they were unable to access the site because of gunfire near the town of Shaktarsk. In consultation with OSCE the team decided to return to Donetsk.

The experts and I are deeply disappointed that we were unable to reach the crash site again. Our colleagues in Donetsk are highly driven and motivated to get to work at the site. They left the Netherlands with great haste for this mission. It is frustrating to have to wait to do the job they came to do. Their motivation comes from the deep conviction that the relatives are entitled to have their loved ones and their personal effects returned to them. At the same time, we have to guarantee the safety of our people.

On a positive note, the OSCE is currently attempting to facilitate access to the site by consulting with the parties in conflict. It was also good that the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, and his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, were in Kyiv today doing everything they can at diplomatic level to make this mission a success.

We are going to try to access the crash site tomorrow if the security situation permits. We will make an assessment in the morning.

In the meantime, we are continuing our efforts on other fronts. We are working with Australia to fly in people and equipment to ensure the operation proceeds as smoothly as possible. An operational centre is being set up in Donetsk. In addition, search plans are being drafted and the necessary preparations made. To prepare properly, an initial investigation of the site is necessary.

Tomorrow the search for victims will be our top priority. If the experts find remains, they will be recovered immediately. We will be using a refrigerated train wagon near Torez. If the train is inaccessible for whatever reason, we will arrange other transport. We will not leave any remains behind. In addition if we will try to reach the wagon in Torez intended for personal belongings, so that we can get it moving as soon as possible.

The members of the joint mission are working very hard to achieve our goal: the repatriation of the victims and their personal belongings. It is not an easy task, but we will do everything in our power to complete it.

Investigation at crash site currently not possible
News item | 29-07-2014 | 10:37

The group of Dutch and Australian experts did not travel today to the site in the east of Ukraine where flight MH17 crashed. There is currently too much fighting along the route to the crash site.

The OSCE will shortly be issuing a statement with more details to the press in Donetsk.

Press statement by Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission
News item | 29-07-2014 | 20:25

This morning, we decided it was not safe enough to drive with the experts from Donetsk to the crash site of flight MH17. We took the decision after careful consultations with the OSCE.

We are again disappointed, because we are highly motivated to carry out our mission. As we have said before, we feel strongly that the relatives are entitled to have their loved ones and their personal belongings returned.

Our inability to reach the crash site is frustrating. We are losing valuable time to recover the victims' remains. However, we will not give up, and we intend to keep trying in the days ahead.

Together with the OSCE we are planning a new attempt to reach the crash site tomorrow, if the security situation allows it. Tomorrow morning will be assessed whether it is safe to travel to the crash site and a safe environment to work can be quaranteed.

Unfortunately the mission has proceeded less smoothly than we had hoped. Still, we will keep working tirelessly to achieve our goals: bringing back our loved ones and their belongings.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the recovery mission
News item | 30-07-2014 | 18:28

Yesterday and today 2 reconnaissance drives have been made, led by the OSCE. The goal was to determine whether the route is safe between Donetsk and the crash site of flight MH17. Until now the route is considered to be unsecure. Therefore we did not manage to travel to the crash site with the group of experts.

Unfortunately we don't expect the security situation to improve enough the next couple of days. The chances look slimmer for us to reach the crash site on short notice. There is too much fighting going on that prevent our people to travel through the area.

The experts have to work in a safe environment. Because of all the gunfire in the area, this is currently not possible. This is the reality we have to deal with.

Through intensive consultations with the OSCE, the Ukranian and the Australian authorities we keep trying to get access to the crash site. This is and remains our priority. Tommorow we will try again to travel to the crash site, after consultations with the OSCE. This depends of course on the security analysis.

Today there were consultations with the Malaysian authorities. Our goal was to integrate Malaysian experts into our mission. With that addition the mission is expanded to an international mission with experts from The Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia.

To summarize: we are in a difficult situation. We will keep negotiating with the OSCE to get entrance to the crash site as soon as possible. Our goal is and remains to return the human remains and personal belongings to the relatives.

Investigators reach crash site
News item | 31-07-2014 | 15:16

The OSCE representatives and a number of Dutch and Australian experts who left Donetsk this morning have now reached the area where flight MH17 crashed two weeks ago.

The team will explore the site, to facilitate the recovery work to be carried out on subsequent visits.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission
News item | 31-07-2014 | 18:47

Today, exactly two weeks after the crash of flight MH17, our team has managed to reach the crash site. We are very pleased at having managed this. The team consisted of scouts who, accompanied by the OSCE, assessed the security situation along the route and inspected the crash area.

I would like here to express my sincere thanks to all those who have played such an important role in making todays events possible.

The scouts left this morning shortly after 07:00. They travelled 198 kilometres, arriving around 14:00 at one of the search locations at the crash site and spending more than an hour there. The realisation that they were at the spot where so many people had died made a deep impression on all of us. The scouts started their journey back to Donetsk around 15:15.

It is important to keep consultations going through the OSCE with all parties concerned to ensure access to the crash area for the big group of experts, so they can recover the victims remains and personal belongings. As we have said before, we feel that the victims relatives are entitled to have their loved ones and their personal effects returned to them as soon as possible.

The security situation is still very unstable, however. That is why we are not sure if we can reach the crash site with the whole team of experts in the near future. But we are more hopeful than we were yesterday.

Tomorrow we will try once more to reach the crash area. If we succeed, the experts will carry out limited searches at a few locations in the area.

We also succeeded today in salvaging DNA samples from 25 victims. We now also have the personal belongings of 27 victims in our possession. The belongings and the DNA samples were in a mortuary in Donetsk, and have been handed over to the Dutch and Australian experts.

We are planning to bring these belongings and the DNA samples from Donetsk to Kharkiv tomorrow. There the first forensic check will be performed. We will then transport these important materials to the Netherlands as soon as possible.

I can also tell you that we have been in close contact today with the 68 Malaysian experts, who have arrived in Kyiv. Yesterday we agreed that these experts will join our mission, which now consists of Dutch, Australian and Malaysian experts. We will all continue to cooperate closely in the days to come.

In the coming days we will persist every day in trying to reach the crash site. This will only be possible to a limited extent during the first several days, on the one hand because we only have permission to have 40 to 50 experts in the area, and on the other hand because the logistic chain can only now be organised at our current location there.

You have seen that the distances to be covered are great. The long travel times required, the complexity of the terrain and the shifting security situation are major factors in determining what we can do. This means that not everything can be put in place in a few days. If we can continue to have unrestricted access to the area, I expect that in addition to our daily searches, we will have our complete operation in place by the end of the weekend.


xperts leave MH17 crash site for today
News item | 01-08-2014 | 16:54

The 70 Dutch and Australian experts have concluded their work for today at the MH17 crash site. All the human remains they have found will be taken away from the site.

'We are glad that we can ensure these remains will be transported to the Netherlands now. We hope this will be of some comfort to the relatives. Our people are relieved to finally have been able to get to work on the site,' said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the mission.

The team is now on its way to a new base of operations. The entire team of experts in the repatriation mission is relocating its base of operations to Soledar, a town in Ukraine situated northwest of the location where flight MH17 crashed two weeks ago. Kharkiv will remain the mission's base for logistics and other services. The Netherlands will continue to be represented in Donetsk, along with the OSCE.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the repatriation mission
News item | 01-08-2014 | 19:03

First I would like to sincerely thank all the parties who made it possible today for us to have access again to the crash site. This is important for us. We are aware that the parties involved have worked hard to make this happen.

Today the team of 70 Dutch and Australian experts set to work for the first time at the disaster site where flight MH17 crashed two weeks ago.

Under the leadership of the OSCE, the team left Donetsk at 07:20. They took the new, northern route to reach the site, the same route that the scouts used yesterday. The experts arrived at the disaster site at 11:30. After the short speech by the commander in that area, there was a minute of silence. Then the experts set immediately to work.

Today, the experts were able to recover some of the human remains. A number of personal belongings were also found at the disaster site. A search was made of the location that had been scouted out yesterday. This area is located in the small village of Grabovo, near a chicken farm. This is close to where the fuselage of the plane came to rest. Part of this area has been searched. In a moment Ill point out the exact location with the help of some maps.

The work of the international police officers and experts at the disaster site is governed by certain protocols. These define two distinct roles: searchers, who comb through the area and mark important finds, and recovery workers, who wear protective clothing, including gloves. The other police officers perform tasks like moving recovered material and putting up fences.

In principle, everything found at the disaster site is first photographed. Then it is put into bags by the recovery workers. All bags are labelled and taken away on stretchers. Starting tomorrow, the human remains will be put into refrigerated train cars and taken to Kharkiv, the location of the air lift to the Netherlands.

In Kharkiv a team of Dutch, Australian and Malaysian DVI specialists stand ready to transfer the remains and personal belongings back to the Netherlands, following an initial forensic scan.

In the interest of clarity I would now like to say a bit more about the situation on the ground with the help of several maps, before turning to the subject of the results.

From two o'clock until four o'clock a team of 30 experts conducted a search near a poultry farm covering 5 x 5 metre areas. As has been said, this is a painstaking process. A number of human remains were found. The remains were all recovered and packed separately. They were then taken by the teams ambulance to Soledar, where they will be stored in a refrigerated carriage.

In addition, many personal belongings were recovered. These too have all been packed separately, collected in large bags and taken away by the team. Everything will now be brought back to the Netherlands as quickly as possible via Kharkiv. We hope that the start of these activities and the recovery of these remains will bring some comfort to the families of the victims.

Over the past 24 hours the mission team has looked for a new location, because the crash site is easier to access from the north. We found this location in Soledar. This base will connect our main location in Kharkiv and the area being searched at the crash site. Soledor is nearly 90 km north-west of the crash site.

The repatriation team will stay in Soledar at the campus that has been made available by the Ukrainian authorities. The campus includes the school, a sports complex and a clinic that we will be able to use. Around 120 members of the repatriation team will sleep there tonight, including the team which worked today at the crash site. A sociomedical medical team will be on hand for the latter group, whose members will be allowed to rest tomorrow. These people have had to do an extremely tough job today and we are proud of their commitment and perseverance. They realise the importance of their work and the responsibility that rests on their shoulders.

As part of the further buildup of the mission, we expect to work tomorrow with four teams of 20 experts each. We will be at full strength on Sunday or Monday with five teams. In the days ahead we may be able to deploy divers and specially trained dogs.

Of course, as I said before, returning to the crash site depends on the outcome of negotiations with the OSCE and the security situation.

Tomorrow, the international police team and the forensic experts will travel from Soledar to the disaster site once again to continue with the search and recovery mission. It is not yet possible to indicate when our work at the site will be complete. This depends on the general circumstances and what we find there. It is expected that things will take at least several more weeks.

As I said, I am grateful to the parties concerned for making it possible to visit the disaster site. I hope we can continue working together in the days ahead, under the leadership of the OSCE.

Update Prime Minister Rutte on the latest air disaster developments
News item | 01-08-2014 | 20:47

On Friday afternoon Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a press conference on the latest developments surrounding the air disaster in Ukraine. Mr Rutte reported that the team of 70 experts and OSCE staff had managed to reach the crash site this morning and carry out their work. The team have found victims remains and removed them from the scene. They will be transported to the Netherlands as soon as possible. In Eindhoven, they will be received with the same ceremony as the victims whose remains have already arrived in the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte:

After the successful reconnaissance mission yesterday, the repatriation team of 70 Dutch and Australian experts and OSCE staff managed to reach the crash site this morning. Its good that we were able to work at the scene with a large team. The team has concluded its work for today. They have found victims remains and removed them from the crash site. We will now follow the same repatriation procedure as for those victims who have already been brought back to the Netherlands. From Kharkiv they will be flown to Eindhoven as soon as possible, where they will be received with the same ceremony as the victims whose remains arrived on 23, 24, 25 and 26 July. From there they will be transferred to Hilversum. It is not yet known when the next flight will depart.

The security situation continues to be unstable and in the past few days the team was forced to abort its attempts to reach the crash site. We are monitoring the situation continuously in order to decide on a day-to-day basis whether or not it is safe to work at the crash site. The basic principle is that if it is at all possible to work safely, they will go.

A forward operating base will be established in Soledar today, from where the experts only have a short distance to travel to do their important work. Soledar is located north west of the location where flight MH17 crashed two weeks ago. Kharkiv will continue to be the missions base for logistics and other services.

Our goal is to recover the victims remains and personal belongings as soon as possible. We believe that this move will bring us closer to that goal. Less time will be needed for travelling back and forth, leaving more time for work at the crash site.

At the moment, the mission has 332 participants from the Netherlands and Australia in Ukraine. They will be joined by 68 staff from Malaysia, who arrived in Ukraine yesterday. The mission capacity will be increased gradually. In the short term, the Netherlands can provide 60 more experts from the National Forensic Investigation Team (LTFO) and 60 members of personnel from the Royal Military and Border Police (Koninklijke Marechaussee). The latters capacity can later be increased if necessary.

The identification process in Hilversum is proceeding thoroughly and with great care. 207 Dutch police experts are being assisted by colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa and the United States.

As of 28 July, the barracks in Hilversum has been designated as a crime scene. This protects the identification process from the risk of contamination and ensures the continuity of the process. The number of victims identified will not be communicated until the next of kin and the mayor of the relevant place of residence have been informed. The identity of a second victim, a Dutch national, was established today. As soon as further identifications have been fully completed, announcements will be made accordingly. An update on the number of victims identified will be given every Friday. I should emphasise once again that the identification process could progress rapidly or take weeks or even months.

Alongside this important work, the repatriation and identification of those on board, we are also working hard on two other key priorities. The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) is investigating the circumstances surrounding the disaster. A large-scale criminal investigation is also taking place.

That is the state of affairs at this moment. I say at this moment, because the past few weeks since the terrible disaster have taught us that the situation is very unpredictable and changeable.

Our patience is being tried, in particular that of the victims families and the team in Ukraine: the forensic experts and the military police personnel who are carrying out this important work. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their perseverance in this exceedingly difficult situation. The same also applies to the many experts working in Hilversum, of course.

And that perseverance has already paid off. Today, 70 members of the team were able to work on our first priority: bringing back the victims and their personal belongings.

That first step has now been taken, but I must repeat that the security situation is fluid. So we will continue, every day, to decide on the basis of a thorough security analysis whether or not the team can travel to the crash site.

Finally, I have informed parliament that we will provide it with regular updates on the situation, including a letter to be sent this afternoon/early evening.


Experts resume search at crash site
News item | 02-08-2014 | 10:41

On Saturday morning, the team of Dutch and Australian experts returned to the site where flight MH17 crashed a little over two weeks ago.

The team will continue its search in the same location as yesterday, near the chicken farm in the village of Grabavo.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the recovery mission
News item | 02-08-2014 | 18:30

For the second day in a row, our international team was able to carry out our search and recovery work at the site where flight MH17 crashed just over two weeks ago. We would like to thank all parties that have once again facilitated our access to the crash site. This is of great importance to the international police officers, the experts and, especially, the victims families.

The team of Dutch and Australian experts left around six oclock this morning from Soledor, our new base of operations, located to the north of the crash site. Escorted by the OSCE, they arrived at the site around ten-thirty. This was earlier than on previous days when the team was leaving from Donetsk. As a result, the experts had more time to devote to their work.

The 70 police officers and experts continued to search the area around the chicken farm near the village of Grabovo. Today they were aided in their efforts by two sniffer dogs. Yesterday, they managed to cover a 5x5-metre demarcated patch of ground in two hours. Today, because they had more time, the experts were able to comb through a bigger area. They again found human remains and personal belongings.

These discoveries were recovered in accordance with protocol. Today, we had a refrigerated lorry on site. All the remains were placed inside the vehicle to be transported to Kharkiv at the end of the day.

Around noon, there was mortar fire at a considerable distance from the police officers and experts at the chicken farm. The OSCE did not deem this to be a threat to the team. The activities on site have not been interrupted.

Around four oclock the search was halted for the day, and the team returned to Soledor. The entire area around the chicken farm has now been searched.

The objects and remains found at the site will be taken in the refrigerated lorry to Kharkiv, which serves as our logistical centre. The DNA material and personal belongings that had been stored at the mortuary in Donetsk will also be taken to Kharkiv, along with the lorry.

There, Dutch, Australian and Malaysian experts and others stand ready to perform an initial forensic scan on the recovered remains. This scan will be carried out in the same way as was done with the remains previously brought to the Netherlands.

The forensic experts in Kharkiv are working in a dedicated storage facility. They wear protective suits, head coverings, gloves, mouth masks and safety glasses to ensure that the recovery and identification operation proceeds as smoothly as possible. The experts scan the material recovered from the site, ascertain whether everything has been properly packed, and register everything that comes in.

Tomorrow our goal is to move the search to an area northeast of the village of Rozsypne, where pieces of wreckage from the aircraft have been found.

As announced, the mission will be further expanded. On Monday, if the security situation allows, five teams, consisting of 20 experts each, will be involved in search and recovery activities. At that point the mission will be at full strength.


Experts return to crash site
News item | 03-08-2014 | 11:45

On Sunday morning, the team of Dutch and Australian experts returned to the site where flight MH17 crashed over two weeks ago.

The team will continue its search in a different location as yesterday, near the village Rozsypne.

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbergsberg, head of the recovery mission
News item | 03-08-2014 | 18:32

Over a hundred international police officers and experts continued their search and recovery work today at the site where flight MH17 crashed two weeks ago. We are very grateful that all parties involved have been working to making this possible.

Today, I visited the new base in Soledar with high representatives of the Australian and the Malaysian authorities. The police officers and experts are receiving support from Ukrainian volunteers. They are working hard to assist us in every way. Immediately after the crash many local civilians provided assistance at the crash site, helping to recover human remains. We are still very grateful for that help. It is heart-warming to see that Ukrainians are still actively helping us more than two weeks after the crash.

Our own people are also firmly committed to this mission. There are one hundred team members in Soledar at any given time. There is a rotation schedule in place for them. Every day, fifty well rested colleagues arrive from Kharkiv and fifty others leave to go to Kharkiv to recuperate. This also happened today. We trust that roster will enable the police officers and experts to stay sharp so that they can continue their physically and psychologically taxing work.

Today the Australian and Malaysian representatives and I consulted with Commander Kees Kuijs, who is leading the field operations. We discussed the local situation, the activities of the mission and its progress. We also spoke about the experiences of the police and the experts in the field.

Today, I also travelled to Kharkiv. That is where the forensics specialists carry out the primary forensic check of the recovered remains and personal belongings. They do everything in their power to ensure that the human remains and personal belongings can be transferred to the Netherlands as soon as possible. The first flight leaves tomorrow. This flight will transport what was recovered on Friday and Saturday, and the DNA material that was stored in a mortuary in Donetsk.

We expect that there will be more flights to the Netherlands in the near future. We realise that relatives have to wait a long time before they receive any confirmation. We hope that the knowledge that we are doing everything we can here in Ukraine will bring them some comfort.

Today a group of 109 people worked in a field north of the village of Rozsypne. The team included 54 Dutch and 34 Australian forensic specialists, 88 in total. They searched for almost six hours in a field containing pieces of wreckage. The location is about 3.5 kilometres west of the farm where the recovery work has been done over the last two days.

With the help of some maps, I shall now indicate where the search has been performed.

Conditions are tough for the police officers and experts, especially the heat in the open field. They managed to search an area of about six square kilometres. Personal belongings of the victims were found and recovered. No human remains were found.

Personal belongings were also recovered today in Torez, south of the crash site. Luggage of the victims was being stored in a train wagon placed there a while ago. Thanks to the negotiations performed by the OSCE, we succeeded today to reach the wagon. The seal on the wagon was still intact and the suitcases, bags and cameras inside seemed untouched. The personal belongings were taken to Soledar. From there, they will be transferred to Kharkiv.

We hope to get to the crash site again tomorrow, but that will depend on the security situation. For the first time, our Malaysian colleagues will be joining our team in the search. The team aims to search two fields in the western part of the crash site. We remain fully motivated to continue the search in the coming days.


Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of mission
News item | 05-08-2014 | 18:38

For the fifth day in a row, an international team of police officers and experts were able to carry out search and recovery work at the site where flight MH17 crashed 2 weeks ago.

As happened yesterday, it once again became clear that the crisis situation is a limiting factor for the experts' work. The plain fact is that there is active fighting in the area. Access to the crash site is never 100 percent certain. Even once the experts reach the area, the possibility of doing the necessary work without interruption also depends on the security situation.

The experts searched a large area near the village of Roszypne. The work had to be stopped temporarily due to negotiations being conducted by the OSCE. A smaller group of experts was able to work undisturbed for the rest of the afternoon. The search in this area is now completed.

A small number of personal belongings were found. These were recovered and taken to the base in Soledar. From there they will be transferred to Kharkiv, where they will undergo an initial forensic examination. No human remains were found today.

It would seem the local population and authorities have recovered many human remains themselves after the crash of flight MH17. This may explain why the experts have so far mainly found personal belongings.

Our mission cannot succeed without the support off the local and regional population and authorities. We are and remain very grateful for that.

Update Prime Minister Rutte on the latest air disaster developments
News item | 06-08-2014 | 20:35

Rutte: 'Over the past few days, the security situation in eastern Ukraine including the MH17 crash site has been getting progressively worse. Tensions are on the rise. As a result, experts are unable to do their work in  much of the area. And it is our firm belief that this state of affairs is unlikely to change in the near future. In this light it is currently not advisable to continue the repatriation mission. Obviously, this decision was made in consultation with Australia, Malaysia and the OSCE. As we speak, the families are being informed.'

We would have greatly preferred to stay and carry out our work with all due care. But the situation on the ground simply does not allow it. We did what we could in the present circumstances.'

'As I'm sure everyone can agree, we do not want to expose our people to unnecessary risks.'

'We are working in a highly complex situation, in an instable environment. We had good days, when we were able to search with more than 100 people. But these were followed by days when we had to scale back our efforts, or indeed suspend work entirely. The main areas where victims were most likely to be located have now been searched. Some human remains have been found, as have various personal belongings like suitcases, cameras and passports. Tomorrow, a flight will leave Kharkiv for the Netherlands, carrying a large amount of recovered luggage, some of which had been stored in a train car.'

'We recently learned from a Ukrainian medical officer, who coordinated recovery efforts in the first few days after the crash, that an intensive search was carried out during that time, with the help of 800 volunteers. Many bodies were recovered then, all of which are now back in NL. The fact that our teams found few remains over the past few days would seem to confirm that more work was done in the immediate wake of the disaster than we previously thought.'

'A small team will stay behind in the region. This will also give the local population a chance to turn in any remains or personal property they might have found. In this regard it's important to remember that DNA can still be collected and tested for a long time after an incident like this has occurred. Once the situation stabilises, we hope to finish our work. It is our aim to return to the crash site as soon as we have good reason to believe well be able to work in stable conditions for an extended period.'

'In 2 or 3 weeks we hope to be able to reveal how many bodies have been recovered in total. Seven hundred DNA samples have been taken and are currently being analysed. Once that process is complete, we will know how many victims have been brought back to Hilversum. Please note that this doesn't mean the victims will have been identified. As I've said before, that process could take a lot longer. You will receive a weekly update of the situation on Fridays.'

'The fact that we are now leaving the crash site doesn't mean we have ceased investigating the cause of the disaster.'

'In closing, I would like to express my deep respect for our people who have had to work in Ukraine in very difficult circumstances. They have done their job with great dedication and will continue to do so, albeit in other capacities. The same certainly applies to our partners from Australia, Malaysia and the OSCE. I also want to express my thanks to the local population, who have played such an important role in this operation and may continue to do so in the future. Let me conclude with a simple message, which is directed in particular to the victims' loved ones: today, we're putting one aspect of our work on hold, but we're not stopping.'

Press statement by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the recovery mission
News item | 06-08-2014 | 21:10

This evening the prime minister announced that the MH17 recovery mission cannot continue at the present time. This means that tomorrow our police personnel and experts will not be searching the area where flight MH17 crashed almost 3 weeks ago.

The security situation has worsened in recent days, tensions have risen and the crash site has become less and less accessible. The experts are not able to perform their task adequately.

Over the past few days the experts have continued working under difficult circumstances to search as large an area as possible. To date it has been a daily challenge to keep working without interruption. The experts wore protective vests for their own safety and regularly heard shooting in the vicinity of the search area.

We must therefore be realistic: as the security situation worsens further, police personnel and experts can no longer perform their work safely. The safety of our people is our top priority. This was highlighted today when small calibre guns were fired close by the search team. In response, the team moved to a secure location. On the advice of the OSCE the team then withdrew to Soledar, our base to the north of the crash site.

We have continually stressed that we must have 3 'green lights' before our people can safely do their work: the Ministry of Defence's security analysis, the OSCE's advice and the commander on the ground. These new developments mean it is no longer viable to get all 3 lights on green on a daily basis.

Despite the difficult conditions the search team has achieved a lot in the past few days. Today, too, more personal belongings were recovered. The team distributed leaflets in Rozsypne, calling on residents to hand in items they have recovered. We also asked them to share any information they might have with us.

Residents did come to hand in the personal belongings of victims, and statements were taken from some people. They provide an insight into how local residents and the emergency services recovered human remains shortly after the crash. It appears that they did so with great care and sensitivity. We are grateful for their help and the respect they showed. Today, again, the search team saw how deeply affected and committed many local residents remain.

Early on, the search team found significant quantities human remains mainly in the vicinity of the poultry farm. These were transported immediately to the Netherlands, where the process of identification will now continue. In addition, there are a total of 10 one-cubic-meter packages filled with personal belongings. These include items of great significance to the victims' loved ones, such as photo albums, cameras, jewelry, diaries, passports and cuddly toys.

Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, the mission has succeeded in getting results in difficult conditions and in a short period of time. Our team is disappointed that they can't complete their important task. At the same time, we are pleased that we have been able to recover human remains and personal belongings. We hope that this can offer some comfort to the victims' loved ones. Some of our people will remain behind in Charkov and in the crash site area. As the prime minister said in his statement: we aim to return to the crash site as soon as we have the opportunity to work there for a longer period under stable conditions.


MH17 air disaster: where did the mission carry out its search?
News item | 09-08-2014 | 18:22

Between 1 and 6 August the repatriation mission worked at the MH17 crash site, with the aim of recovering as many human remains and personal belongings as possible and returning them to the Netherlands.

Where did the mission carry out its search?
The search area was approximately 60 km2. The Dutch and Australian specialists began by making a thorough analysis to determine which locations to search first, using all relevant knowledge and resources available to them, including satellite images and a Geographic Information System (GIS). The search areas were selected on the basis of this analysis, as well as the accessibility and safety of the locations. In deciding which areas to search next, the experts also took into account the result of previous days searches.

Search work was carried out for a total of 20 hours over six days. Not all of the chosen areas were searched, because in some cases the experts were not granted access or the security risks were too great. Some of the areas had also been completely burnt out. Some 800 Ukrainians individuals who are generally deployed in response to local disasters and other incidents, led by a colonel from the medical corps had previously recovered human remains and personal belongings.

The mission focused specifically on areas that it suspected had not yet been searched or fully searched by the Ukrainians. Local sources confirm that the Ukrainians had already recovered remains and personal belongings from inaccessible areas and areas to which the mission was not granted access. This work was carried out in a more careful and professional manner than was initially assumed. No search was conducted in the North-West cluster (see map) because this was regarded as too dangerous. The experts assessment was that it was unlikely that remains would be found there, partly in view of the locations where bodies had previously been found.

How was the search conducted?
The areas were searched by teams of experts aided by tracker dogs. When the experts made a find, it was marked and then handled in accordance with the established procedures. Personal belongings were taken if they were relevant for identification purposes (based on forensic standards) or considered to be of possible sentimental value to the next of kin. For example, cuddly toys were taken, but any magazines or items of clothing found strewn in the area were not.

What was the result of the search?
Human remains and personal belongings were found during the search period. No complete bodies were found. There were no further finds in areas from which the local population had already recovered bodies. In the areas searched, personal belongings and open luggage were found, from which items had been removed by unknown parties. The luggage and items in the wagon (which was located in Torez) seemed to have been untouched; the same applies to most of the items returned by Ukrainians.

The local population was very helpful. On 6 August the mission distributed flyers to local residents asking them to hand over any personal belongings and share any information that they might still have. A few people handed over belongings in response to this. The forensic and disaster identification experts from the international team that was investigating in the area believe there is not a substantial chance of finding complete bodies or larger body parts in the area. DNA traces can be secured even after a longer period of time has passed.

What happens now?
The search has been suspended, but not yet completed. A small group of experts is staying behind in Kyiv and Kharkiv to ensure that any items found or returned by the local population in the period ahead are brought back to the Netherlands. Those remaining behind must also ensure that work can be resumed quickly as soon as the security situation permits.

Map MH17 air disaster


Prime Minister Rutte responds to Safety Board report on MH17 crash
News item | 10-09-2014 | 11:07

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has responded at a press conference to the Dutch Safety Boards preliminary report on the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The following are the prime ministers remarks:

At 9.00 this morning Mr Joustra informed me and the prime ministers of Australia and Malaysia by telephone about the Dutch Safety Boards preliminary report on the circumstances surrounding the MH17 air disaster. The victims next of kin were first given the opportunity to read the report in Dutch or English at 9.00 on a protected website. At 10.00 the text was made available to the general public.

This is once more a very difficult and distressing moment for the next of kin. Behind all the factual words and images that the Safety Board has presented is the terrible personal loss that the victims families have suffered. Today they are feeling and experiencing that loss even more, particularly those who still have no definitive information about the identification of their loved ones.

The great care and precision with which the Board has presented the facts that have been uncovered to date are therefore all the more valuable. All the independent international experts who have worked on the investigation are in agreement on these facts. It is helpful to know, for example, that the flight was proceeding normally until the moment that the aircraft was struck by objects from outside.

On Thursday there will be a meeting where the next of kin will receive a thorough briefing about the report. But of course the story will not end there. First, this is only a preliminary report. The Safety Boards definitive conclusions will be presented in the course of 2015. The Public Prosecution Services investigation into who was responsible for this disaster is still in full swing. The search at the crash site for the victims remains and personal belongings has not been completed either. The two investigations and the search at the crash site will remain top priorities.

Together with the other affected countries, the Netherlands will continue to do everything possible to return to the disaster site in order to finish the work we have begun. I spoke about this task this morning with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Whenever the security situation permits, however briefly, our team is ready to return to the site. I can inform you that the recovery teams leader, Mr Aalbersberg, will be visiting Ukraine once more tomorrow.

Every now and then we receive information that seems to be entirely unambiguous. This was the case again yesterday. And yet we need to be wary of leaping too quickly to conclusions. The Netherlands is leading the investigations. The experts are working, step by step, towards irrefutable conclusions. No one is more eager than we are to find out what happened. But for that very reason, we need to proceed with the utmost care. If new information emerges that can help establish the truth, full use will of course be made of it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Dutch Safety Board has today taken an intermediate step that will certainly help us move forward on the road that lies ahead. But there is still a long way to go. We owe it to the victims next of kin to do everything in our power to secure the victims remains and personal belongings, to achieve clarity about the circumstances of this tragedy, and to bring those responsible to justice.

Thank you.

Rutte: the Netherlands will bolster the team in Kharkiv
News item | 12-09-2014 | 17:44

The Dutch government has decided to send more people to Kharkiv (Ukraine) to bolster the team that remained behind after the suspension of the repatriation mission. Prime Minister Mark Rutte made this announcement following the cabinet meeting.

We are very keen to get back to the MH17 crash site to finish the job we unfortunately had to interrupt due to the unsafe situation on the ground, said the prime minister.

By enlarging the team, we will be best prepared if the opportunity presents itself to return. With more people there, we can act more quickly, said Mr Rutte.

The prime minister stressed that he did not want to raise false hopes. Theres no guarantee that well have access to the crash site, he said. But make no mistake about it: if we are able to work at the site, well get started straightaway.

Ceasefire is a positive development
Mr Rutte called the ceasefire that took effect last week in eastern Ukraine a positive development. But the security situation surrounding the crash site is still precarious, he said. Of course, well only send our people back to work there if its responsible to do so. This is also the position of our partners.

The Dutch head of the repatriation mission, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, returned to Kyiv on Wednesday.


Foreign minister Frans Timmermans regrets comment
News item | 09-10-2014 | 15:35

Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans regrets that the families of the victims of flight MH17 were confronted with new information before being personally informed of the matter. The MH17 disaster struck close to my heart, said Mr Timmermans on Thursday in response to a comment he made on the television programme Pauw. The next of kin have my profound sympathy. The last thing I want to do is worsen their pain in any way. I shouldnt have said what I said.

Mr Timmermans said in the interview that an oxygen mask had been found on one of the victims. The next of kin of the passenger in question were notified at the time. The information had not been made public because no conclusions of any kind can be drawn from the discovery and further investigation is necessary.

The victim in question is not a Dutch national. All next of kin have now been informed of the matter. The House of Representatives will be notified by letter as soon as possible.

Many personal possessions collected at the site of the MH17 disaster
News item | 13-10-2014 | 12:49

More than 40 employees of the local Ukranian State Emergency Services (SES) including the local fire brigade, collected personal possessions of the victims of flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine on Monday. They collected the possessions which could actually mean something for the surviving relatives, such as clothing, suitcases, post, passports, credit cards, jewelry, fluffy toys and photographs. That was announced by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, Head of the repatriation mission.

Today's action was successful. The SES succeeded in collecting 9 cubic metres' worth of personal possessions from the disaster area. We're grateful to them for this, says Aalbersberg. The Netherlands has always maintained that it would do its utmost to recover as many of the personal possessions as possible. It's good to see that working in this way also achieves results, says Aalbersberg.

The day progressed without any incidents: at about midday shots were fired in proximity to the disaster area. That just goes to show that the repatriation mission still cannot be resumed, says Aalbersberg. The safety was constantly being monitored by the OSCE.

The emergency responders and the fire brigade have fetched stuff at the collection points at Roszypne and Grabovo and in the vicinity of these villages. The situation was not safe enough to also collect personal possessions in Petropavlivka.

Aside from the local emergency services, the OSCE, the organisation who is negotiating on behalf of the Netherlands with the separatists, also went along to the disaster area. In addition, there was an operational team of 4 Dutch aides.

The collected items are being brought to Kharkov via Donetsk. That is expected to take place tomorrow. In Kharkov the experts will carry out an initial forensic check. Eight extra experts will be flown in to make this possible. After that the personal possessions will be transferred to the Netherlands as soon as possible.

Taking the safety situation in the area into consideration, the SES will not continue collecting in the area tomorrow. The situation is evaluated from day to day to see whether and when another opportunity arises.

Trucks with personal belongings arrive in Kharkov
News item | 15-10-2014 | 12:17

Two trucks with belongings of victims of flight MH17 arrived in the East Ukrainian city of Kharkov on Tuesday. The belongings comprise nine cubic metres of things collected from the crash site on Monday by the local disaster relief service SES.

The belongings will first be subjected to forensic examination in Kharkov. This is expected to be done on Wednesday. Eight additional experts have been flown in for this process. After this initial examination, the items will be flown to the Netherlands as soon as possible. It is not yet known exactly when this will take place.

On Monday, the local relief workers found, among other things, clothes, suitcases, mail, passports, credit cards, jewellery, cuddly toys and photos. These are things that have emotional value for the next-of-kin. We are therefore delighted to have been able to collect these personal belongings, commented the leader of the repatriation mission, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg.

The four Dutch citizens who were present for the collecting of the items yesterday have returned to Kharkov. Aalbersberg hopes that the local relief workers will be able to enter the disaster area again quickly to gather more personal belongings. At the same time, I am realistic: the area is unsafe. Collecting items around Roszypne and Grabovo was the most that could be done yesterday.

The situation is being reviewed on a daily basis to see if and when the possibility arises again to go to the crash site.

Letter to the House of Representatives in response to questions about the MH17 air disaster
Letter of 27 October 2014 from the Minister of Security and Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defence to the House of Representatives answering questions relating to the MH17 air disaster.


Human remains and personal belongings secured at the site of the MH17 disaster
News item | 04-11-2014 | 09:26

Members of the Dutch repatriation mission for the victims of flight MH17 were able to secure human remains and personal belongings at the site of the disaster in Eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, under the direction of the local emergency response services SES and the OVSE. The finds were collected and are brought to Charkov by experts.

In Charkov experts will conduct initial forensic analyses of the human remains, and the remains will then be transported to the Netherlands. It is not yet known when this will take place. Naturally, the same ceremonial aspects will be observed for the repatriation of the human remains, as those that were observed during the previous repatriations. The personal belongings will be transferred to the surviving relatives after investigation in the Netherlands.

Firing was heard in the area surrounding the disaster site. The safety conditions in the area remain fragile. Return of the entire mission to the disaster site is therefore also not realistic. The members of the mission have since also left the disaster site. The mission continues to make all efforts to return to the disaster site. The safety condition changes constantly and the possibilities are reviewed once a day.

Koenders positive about Kharkiv missions efforts
News item | 08-11-2014 | 16:36

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders was in Kharkiv on Saturday to witness the departure of five coffins carrying the remains of victims of the MH17 air disaster. Mr Koenders was moved by the quiet and dignified ceremony on the airfield in eastern Ukraine.

It was profoundly moving to see the coffins being carried into the aircraft. The repatriation mission has done all it can to make this possible, and Im deeply grateful to those working on the ground. I hope that returning these victims remains offers some comfort to their next of kin, said the minister.

Mr Koenders also spoke with the Governor of Kharkiv Oblast, Ihor Baluta, thanking him for his help with the mission in the face of the difficult circumstances in eastern Ukraine. The two men visited the facility where remains and personal belongings undergo initial forensic analysis before being brought to the Netherlands for identification.

This shows how committed the mission team members are. In a very short time they were able to begin all the procedures needed to bring victims remains home as quickly as possible. They are doing extremely important work, noted Mr Koenders. The minister was accompanied on his visit by the head of the repatriation mission, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg.

This afternoon Mr Koenders will travel to Kyiv, where he will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin and representatives from the OSCE. The Netherlands and Ukraine have been brought together in the aftermath of the disaster. I feel it is vital that we continue to work together. This is why I wanted to travel to Ukraine as soon as possible after taking office, he said.

OSCE brokers agreement on MH17 wreckage recovery
News item | 14-11-2014 | 15:17

Following negotiations led by the OSCE, agreement was reached today on the recovery of parts of the MH17 wreckage. Wreckage recovery is a crucial step in enabling the investigation to progress.

Tomorrow, additional members of the Dutch mission will travel from Kharkiv to Donetsk to provide the necessary logistic support. They hope to be able to start work as soon as possible, together with the Ukrainian State Emergency Service (SES).

The Dutch Safety Board will supervise the recovery efforts and will provide more information when they can, once work has actually begun. The security situation in the region remains fragile and the possibility of working at the site is assessed on a day-to-day basis.

More remains and MH17 wreckage recovered
News item | 17-11-2014 | 16:31

More wreckage from MH17 was salvaged from the crash site in eastern Ukraine today. Human remains were also found.

The Dutch Safety Board has noted that efforts went to plan. Parts of the wreckage were transported to Torez railway station and loaded onto goods trains, ready to be transported to Kharkiv at a later date. The operation will continue tomorrow if circumstances allow; the security situation remains fragile.

Members of the Dutch repatriation mission have secured the remains found during the salvage operation. They will be taken to Kharkiv for initial forensic checks before being flown to the Netherlands at a time to be determined.


MH17 operation salvages remains close to the crash site
News item | 02-02-2015 | 14:50

A small team of military and police personnel today visited the village of Grabovo near the crash site for the MH17 repatriation mission. Together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and local emergency services, team members salvaged a small quantity of the victims' remains. They also took away personal belongings and some wreckage found by residents during the preceding period.

The team maintains good contacts with the Mayor of Grabovo. Team members talked to him on the ground about the situation. Unrest continues in the area of the crash site of flight MH17. If the security situation and weather conditions permit, the team will visit other villages in the vicinity of the crash site tomorrow, also under the leadership of the OSCE and local emergency services.

The remains are expected to arrive at the Eindhoven Airbase on Saturday, 7 February. The same ceremonial procedure will be observed as for previous returns.

MH17 team discusses situation around crash site
News item | 03-02-2015 | 09:17

A small team consisting of Ministry of Defence and police personnel visited the mayors of Rozsypne and Petropavlivka in Ukraine today. Together with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and local emergency services they discussed the situation around the MH17 crash site.

There are still pieces of wreckage in the area that cannot be accessed by the members of the MH17 repatriation mission due to the security situation. The mayors agreed to arrange to have the pieces of wreckage retrieved and stored over the coming period. The material will then be collected by the team at a later date.

Soil analysis
At the burned sites (fenced-off crash areas) the team took soil samples for further examination in the Netherlands. The results can be used by the members of the repatriation mission during their search for remains once the mission has been resumed. The search will resume once the ground is no longer frozen and the security situation allows it.

The Dutch team will take the materials it collected yesterday to Charkov tomorrow. This includes human remains, personal possessions and pieces of wreckage. The remains will be received at Eindhoven Air Base on Saturday following a ceremonial protocol.

Mission leader to Ukraine
Mission leader Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg will travel to Ukraine on Wednesday to talk about the aftermath of the plane crash with, amongst others, the national authorities and the Malaysian and Australian ambassadors. Subsequently Aalbersberg will visit Charkov to strengthen the ties with regional representatives.


Parliamentary document | 03-03-2015
Answers to parliamentary questions concerning the MH17 air disaster
Letter of 28 January 2015 from the Minister of Security and Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment to the House of Representatives answering questions put to the government by the Houses Permanent Committee on Foreign Affairs in its letter of 16 January 2015 relating to the MH17 air disaster.

Download "Answers to parliamentary questions concerning the MH17 air disaster"
PDF document | 30 pages | 127 kB

Parliamentary document | 03-03-2015
Answers to parliamentary questions concerning the information known to the Netherlands prior to the MH17 air disaster
Questions from MPs Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66) and Pieter Omtzigt (CDA) to the Ministers of Security & Justice, Foreign Affairs and Defence, concerning the information known to the Netherlands prior to the MH17 air disaster.

Download "Answers to parliamentary questions concerning the information known to the Netherlands prior to the MH17 air disaster"
PDF document | 9 pages | 37 kB


Team to return to MH17 crash site
News item | 20-03-2015 | 11:40

A Dutch team of 12 defence and police personnel left for Ukraine today. The team will stay there until 28 March, making preparations for resuming the Dutch repatriation mission in April. They will be joined by a staff member from the Dutch Safety Board.

The team will assess the situation in the fire-ravaged areas that have been cordoned off, and draw up a final plan for the mission in April.

The defence and police personnel will also visit an area northwest of Petropavlivka, to gauge the situation there. That area has not yet been assessed by a Dutch team due to the security situation. The mayor of Petropavlivka has had pieces of the wreckage collected over the past few months, which will be picked up by the Dutch team and stored in Kharkiv for the time being.

The team's activities will depend on the local security situation and the weather conditions.

Consultation with the authorities
The team will work in consultation with the authorities in Kharkiv and in the villages affected by the disaster. It will also consult with the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) and the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Donetsk. The head of the repatriation mission, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, will visit Kyiv on 20 March with military adviser Air Commodore Theo ten Haaf. While in Kyiv, Mr Aalbersberg will meet with the Ukrainian authorities and the OSCE. He will also speak with delegates from Malaysia and Australia, countries which, like the Netherlands, were severely affected by the disaster.

Defence News Summary
News item | 25-03-2015 | 17:54

A 12-man Dutch team made up of Ministry of Defence and police officials arrived in Ukraine on 20 March. A summary of Defence news for the week of 16-22 March.

Team returns to MH17 crash site
The team will remain at the crash site in Ukraine until 28 March. The team is there to prepare the way for the repatriation mission that will be resumed in April. An official from the Dutch Safety Board accompanied the team.


Defence News Summary 23-29 March 2015
News item | 01-04-2015 | 09:55
More remains of MH17 victims recovered
On 24 and 25 March, the Dutch investigation team in Ukraine recovered more remains of MH17 victims at the so-called burned sites close to the town of Grabovo. The remains have been taken to Charkov. A number of personal effects were also recovered at the sites. The Dutch team of Defence and police officials are currently preparing to resume the repatriation mission.

New recovery mission to MH17 crash site
News item | 10-04-2015 | 16:04

Following a cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher has announced that the Netherlands will be deploying another recovery mission to eastern Ukraine next week.

Ongoing fighting and wintry weather conditions has made it impossible for the Netherlands to engage in any further recovery work in the area around the disaster site. The fact-finding mission that has been active in eastern Ukraine over the past few weeks has concluded that the situation has now improved.

The team will make every effort to recover any human remains or personal belongings that may be left, but it is possible that not everything will be found. Good agreements have been made with the local authorities in the event that something is found at a later date.

Access to the north-western area of the crash site
For the first time, the recovery team may have the opportunity to search the north-western area of the crash site. Until now this was inaccessible due to the security situation. Anything found during the present mission will be brought back to the Netherlands with the customary degree of ceremony.

MH17 repatriation mission makes steady progress
News item | 23-04-2015 | 12:31

Since resuming its tasks at the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine, the repatriation mission has been able to work without disruption. Good progress is being made. The team, consisting of some 20 members, is faced with challenging weather conditions, though: sleet, rain and strong winds. Mission leader Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg reported this on Wednesday.

The mission is doing its utmost to recover the last of the victims remains and personal belongings. The aim is to clear both of the fire-ravaged sites and search the area north of Petropavlivka. The mission will continue for as long as necessary probably several weeks.

Over the past days forensic experts searched the smaller of the two fire-ravaged sites measuring 45 by 80 metres thoroughly by hand, recovering human remains and personal belongings. Wreckage was also recovered from that site. The search activities at the smaller site have now been completed, said Mr Aalbersberg.

The experts are also making progress at the larger site, which measures 100 by 100 metres. Human remains were found here too, as well as personal belongings and pieces of wreckage, Mr Aalbersberg said. Due to the wet weather, the experts have not been able yet to dig deeper in this area. They will do so as soon as the conditions improve.

The team members have carried out recovery work in the fields surrounding the fire-ravaged sites as well, and in the area north of Petropavlivka. It has been agreed with the mayor that another appeal will be made to local residents to hand in any objects they find. The mission team will have to return to this area to be sure that the recovery work has been fully completed here, said Mr Aalbersberg.

An additional visual check was done in an area surrounding a chicken farm near Hrabove. Recovery work was already carried out here last year by a previous mission.

In the first days of the current mission, the team have found many human remains.  All remains found so far have been taken to Kharkiv, where an initial forensic check will be conducted. At the end of the present mission, they will be taken to the Netherlands and received with the customary ceremonial honours.

The team has also found or received personal belongings, such as jewellery, passports, documents and photos. Lastly, they have recovered more than 50 cubic metres of wreckage. The wreckage will first be taken to Kharkiv and then transported to the Netherlands, where it will be handed over to the Dutch Safety Board.

As always, the mission team is being assisted by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service (SES). We have been working very well with the local SES staff, remarked Mr Aalbersberg. Some people have even been coming in on their days off to help out. They are highly motivated to support us, hoping to provide as much comfort as possible to the next of kin.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is accompanying the mission again to ensure the team have access to the area and can work in a safe environment. There are also fine working relations with the Malaysians in the forensic team.

The mission is set to continue. Its pace is determined by the security situation and weather conditions, so an end date cannot be set yet.

MH17 repatriation mission ended
News item | 30-04-2015 | 13:09

The MH17 repatriation mission, in its current form, has been concluded. OnSaturday, a Hercules transport aircraft of the Dutch air force will bring thelast coffins with human remains to the Netherlands. This was announced thisafternoon in The Hague by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the mission leader.

Aalbersberg emphasised the physically and mentally challenging work performedby the staff of the Ministry of Defence and the police in recent months. Heexpressed his gratitude to them in that regard, as well as his appreciation forthe assistance rendered by the local authorities, residents, and emergencyservices. "Thanks to the SES emergency service, the team was able to make goodprogress at the sites thought to still contain human remains and personalbelongings. For this, we are very grateful to them."

Much work done
The team of 24 people got a lot of work done in the past two weeks. The team still recovered human remains and personal belongings even in areas that were difficult to access, e.g. due to mines. A total of 120 cubic metres of wreckage were also recovered.

Final inspection
The team performed a final inspection at the large 'burned site' yesterday. They also visited Petropavlivka to collect personal belongings and pieces of wreckage from the inhabitants. Aalbersberg: "That concludes the work of this mission. All items recovered, people, and equipment are currently travelling from Donetsk to Kharkiv. We cannot guarantee that everything has been found, but we can offer the assurance that everything that could be done has been done."

Maintain local contacts
As there is a possibility that more items will be found, the team will maintain the local infrastructure and expertise for the time being. Arrangements have been made with the mayors of the villages surrounding the disaster area, the local population, and SES. There are a number of designated locations where inhabitants can drop off items found, for instance. There is also a contact person at the embassy in Kiev. This to ensure that anything that is found from now on will still reach the Netherlands.

Our immediate priority now is to bring the human remains to the Netherlands. On Saturday, 7 coffins will arrive at the Eindhoven Airbase in a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The team will also return to the Netherlands. It is not yet known when the personal belongings and wreckage will arrive.

30-06-2015 … r-disaster
Letter to the House of Representatives regarding the MH17 air disaster
The Minister of Security and Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and the Minister for the Environment regarding the MH17 air disaster,  are writing to inform the House of the current status of these three priorities and the aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Letter to the President of the House of Representatives from Minister of Security and
Justice Ard van der Steur, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders, Minister of
Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Minister for the Environment Wilma
Mansfeld regarding the MH17 air disaster, 30 June 2015
Even after nearly a year, the MH17 disaster is still fresh in the minds of the people of the
Netherlands, especially the victims friends and families.
The governments efforts are, and will remain, focused on the following three objectives:
1. repatriating human remains and personal belongings;
2. investigating the circumstances of the crash;
3. conducting a criminal investigation.
We are writing to inform the House of the current status of these three priorities and the
aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Below, we examine a number of
different aspects of these issues in greater detail .
Identification and repatriation
Of the 298 victims, 296 have been identified. In April 2015 new remains were discovered
during a recovery mission. The remains were found at fire-ravaged areas, which were
thoroughly searched. Although every possible effort has been made to repatriate every
victim, we are unable to rule out the possibility that more remains could be found in the
future. Agreements have been made with the local authorities and townspeople about how
they will be recovered.
Three foreign laboratories (in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Kingdom and the United
States) have been working alongside the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) to generate
DNA profiles from a large number of remains. These laboratories, which have the
experience and capacity required, are working under the direction of the NFI. The DNA
profiles are generated abroad, while the matching takes place in the Netherlands. The
process of identifying (i.e. both profiling and matching) remains from which viable samples
could be taken ends on 30 June 2015. To date, the last two victims have not been identified.
Regrettably, it is very unlikely that they ever will be.
All due care will be taken in returning any identified remains which are still at the NFI in
Hilversum to the next of kin. This will be done in consultation with the families themselves.
The NFI hopes to reach agreement on this process with all those concerned before 17 July.
Agreements are being drawn up with the MH17 Aviation Disaster Foundation regarding the
storage or burial of remains that could not be identified and of remains declined by next of
kin (for example, because burial or cremation has already taken place). This procedure is set
out in a fact sheet drawn up for next of kin and available via the members-only section of the
Information and Referral Centre (IVC).
Return of personal belongings
During the last recovery mission in April, a large number of personal belongings were again
collected and transported to the Netherlands. These belongings will where possible be
returned to next of kin in July 2015. Once this is done, all belongings that could be traced to
individuals will have been returned. The only exceptions are certain data carriers such as
laptops, telephones and cameras, which have been confiscated in the interests of the
criminal investigation. It will take time to return these devices. During the recent recovery
mission, aeroplane wreckage was also recovered from both fire-ravaged sites. Other
wreckage had previously been collected by the local population. This wreckage has since
been transported to the Netherlands by lorry.
Next of kin / Aftercare
MH17 Aviation Disaster Foundation remembrance ceremony
The MH17 Aviation Disaster Foundation is organising a remembrance ceremony for Dutch
and foreign next of kin. The ceremony will be held at the NBC Congress Centre in
Nieuwegein, with central government, Victim Support Netherlands and the Arq
Psychotrauma Specialist Group/Impact Foundation providing organisational support. The
programme is being devised by next of kin, for next of kin.
The ceremony will also be attended by a government delegation, the President of the House
of Representatives and the President of the Senate, and the ambassadors of the grieving
Remembrance ceremony in Kyiv
The Dutch embassy in Kyiv is also organising a small remembrance ceremony on 17 July for
the Dutch community in Ukraine and representatives of the grieving nations, international
organisations and the Ukrainian government. The ambassadors of Australia, Malaysia and
the Netherlands and the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Hennadii Zubko will be on hand to
pay their respects to the victims and next of kin.
Aftercare for the next of kin
The MH17 disaster has had a major impact on the next of kin. Many next of kin have been
able to come to terms with their loss with the support of family, friends and other social
contacts. Those requiring professional help can contact their GP, who can refer them to
specialist care providers, if necessary. GPs, psychologists and Victim Support Netherlands
case managers can contact the Arq Psychotrauma Specialist Group/Impact Foundations
Aftercare Contact Point appointed for this purpose by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and
Sport if they have any questions regarding the grieving process or referrals.
It is known from experience with previous disasters that significant moments, such as the
remembrance ceremony on 17 July or the publication of the results of the investigations,
offer comfort but can also prove taxing. The long-drawn-out process of identifying the
bodies, returning possessions and dealing with practical matters is also stressful.
Over the last year next of kin have been able to turn to family liaison officers and Victim
Support Netherlands case managers with any questions they might have. At the request of
the Ministry of Security and Justice, Arq Psychotrauma Specialist Group/Impact Foundation
and Victim Support Netherlands have also set up the Information and Referral Centre (IVC)
( The website contains general information on a range of topics,
which is accessible to all visitors. There is also a members-only section where next of kin
can ask questions and discuss their situation with each other and with professionals. This
space is used by Victim Support Netherlands, central government, the Dutch Safety Board
(OVV) and the Public Prosecution Service (OM) to share information which is meant for the
victims immediate family only. The website also issues a newsletter which currently comes
out twice a week. The IVC will continue to be available for the foreseeable future.
Consular affairs
The most recent consular briefing for grieving nations was held at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs on 10 June 2015. The briefing covered the status of the identification process, the
process of returning personal belongings, the remembrance ceremony on 17 July in
Nieuwegein and the progress made on issuing death certificates in Ukraine.
Ukraine drew up death certificates for non-Dutch nationals who were not living in the
Netherlands. The certificates were then translated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into
Dutch and English and legalised or provided with an apostille. The vast majority of the
Ukrainian death certificates have now been issued to the next of kin. The final death
certificates will be issued in the near future.
Technical investigation
The Dutch Safety Board hopes to publish its final report in October 2015.
Criminal investigation/JIT
The investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), involving eight public prosecutors
from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, is ongoing. New information is still coming to
light. The call for witnesses made on 30 March 2015 prompted a large number of useful
responses. A number of people have already been interviewed as witnesses, and more
interviews are planned. The aeroplane wreckage and other items recovered during the most
recent mission to Ukraine have been examined. This is expected to help ascertain with what,
and from which location, the aeroplane was shot down, and who is responsible.
As part of the criminal investigation, a new mission was launched in eastern Ukraine on 15
June at the request of the JIT. The mission, conducted by experts from the Dutch National
Police and the Ministry of Defence, focused on gathering additional evidence to support or
discount various scenarios regarding the technical cause of the disaster. The Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) facilitated this latest mission. Soil samples
were taken from a number of locations. Technical investigations were also conducted to
ascertain the location of telecom towers and to check the functioning of the telephone
network in eastern Ukraine.
With the help of the OSCE, experts had access to the Donetsk region. Representatives of
the self-proclaimed Luhansk Peoples Republic refused to grant access to the Luhansk
region. The mission ended on 29 June.
The Public Prosecution Service is keeping all next of kin abreast of the latest developments
in the criminal investigation.
Security situation in eastern Ukraine
In recent weeks the security situation in eastern Ukraine has changed very little. There have
been a few more skirmishes than usual, and violent incidents are taking place in more
locations along the line of contact. The parties mutual distrust means that violence can erupt
at any moment. There is, however, nothing to suggest that there will be flare-ups of major
fighting in the short term.
Developments in the security situation will largely be determined by the true intentions of the
parties regarding the Minsk II agreement. The indications so far are very contradictory.
There are signs of increasing tensions between rebel groups. This could ultimately result in
violence erupting in the separatist hinterland.
The Netherlands will continue to press for implementation of the Minsk agreements, under
the supervision of the OSCE. The international community needs to stand firm and insist on
a political, rather than a military, resolution. Minsk offers a framework for this on which all
parties have agreed.
International efforts
The government continues to strive to keep MH17 high on the international agenda. One
means of doing so is organising briefings for representatives of the countries most affected,
for example during the Global Conference on CyberSpace on 16 April and the Review
Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which
was held on 29 April in New York. The government usually sees to it that MH17 is on the
agenda of bilateral talks with most of the governments involved, while Dutch representatives
regularly raise the issue in various international forums.
As investigations progress, the next phase prosecution is increasingly relevant. The
government is currently examining the options, in the light of UN Security Council Resolution
2166 of 21 July 2014, which demands that those responsible for this incident be held to
account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. The
government believes that justice and the interests of the next of kin are the absolute priority.
The first step towards achieving this is discussing the possibilities with the countries
represented in the JIT. They have already established a successful partnership while
conducting the investigations which can form a basis for cooperation in the prosecution
phase. Yet, if prosecution is to be successful, a larger coalition and broad international
support will be required. In that connection the Minister of Foreign Affairs recently visited
Washington, Moscow and Beijing and has discussed the matter with his British and French
colleagues. As soon as developments warrant, your House will be informed.
Help for people living close to the crash site
Many local residents have played a positive role in the aftermath of the MH17 disaster, for
example, helping in the repatriation process and clearing the crash site. Though not widely
known, the local authorities and local people have in fact done a great deal for the
Netherlands. We have decided to help local civilians in the short and long term. Short-term
help is being given in the form of Dutch aid supplies (food and hygiene products) for people
living in villages in the region, channelled through an international NGO. The aid packages
also contain a letter from the head of the recovery mission thanking people for their
contribution. Depending on the security situation, inhabitants of the villages affected should
receive their package before 17 July.
More time will be needed to establish long-term assistance. The objective is to improve living
conditions in the local villages in a sustainable manner, focusing on the lasting impact of the
MH17 disaster. Various options are currently being explored. The security situation will play
an important and, for the time being, limiting role. It is also important that we are clear about
who we are working with in the various villages (for example, from the point of view of good
governance and preventing corruption). For security reasons, no further details of this longterm assistance can currently be given.
Aviation safety (ICAO)
From 13 to 15 July the first meeting will take place of a special working group of the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to discuss the application of ICAO
conventions in relation to flying over conflict zones. The Netherlands will be raising three
points in the working group.
Firstly, the Netherlands will address how the principle of sovereignty is applied (article 1 of
the Chicago Convention) when it comes to deciding whether airspace should be closed. The
Netherlands will not dispute the principle of sovereignty as such, seeing as it underpins the
entire system of international aviation agreements. The government does, however, believe
that the sovereign right of a country to close airspace above its own territory entails certain
responsibilities with regard to guaranteeing the safety of international civil aviation. Although,
in principle, such responsibility is implied by the convention, further clarification is required.
The Netherlands will continue to urge the working group to examine how greater emphasis
can be placed on this responsibility when implementing ICAO rules.
Secondly, the Netherlands will seek to determine the extent to which ICAO can play a role in
identifying security issues affecting the airspace above conflict zones. ICAO previously
played such a role in April 2014 when a dangerous situation was identified in the airspace
above Crimea as a result of two air traffic control centres both claiming jurisdiction. The
question is whether ICAOs role in identifying issues can be further clarified and extended.
Thirdly, the Netherlands will ask the working group to look at whether ICAO rules
determining how airlines should draw up a proper risk analysis need amending. Due
consideration must be given to the risks of flying over conflict zones.
Finally, the Netherlands will enquire about the status of the ICAO website, where countries
can post information on conflict zones. To date, the United States, the United Kingdom,
France, the United Arab Emirates and Libya have posted information on the site relating to
the airspace of Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Somalia,
Yemen and Ukraine. It is encouraging that more and more countries are prepared to post
information on the ICAO site. The site is currently running as a pilot and will be evaluated by
ICAO at the end of 2015. ICAO member states have until 15 December 2015 to share with
ICAO their experience of working with the website.
Meeting following the Sjoerdsma motion
As the House was previously informed, a second meeting was planned for the summer, in
part in response to the motion submitted by MPs Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, Joël Voordewind and
Pieter Omtzigt. The meeting, which was held on 24 June, was led by the Ministry of Security
and Justice and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. The motion called on the
government to enter consultations with the Dutch aviation sector about improving
information-gathering practices and risk analysis for flights over conflict zones (House of
Representatives 33997, no. 32).
The following organisations participated in the meeting: the Ministries of Security & Justice,
Infrastructure & the Environment, and Foreign Affairs, the intelligence services (the General
Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) and the Netherlands Defence Intelligence and
Security Service (MIVD)), airlines (KLM, Corendon and ArkeFly) and the Dutch pilots union
(VNV). Consultations are progressing to the satisfaction of all parties.
In anticipation of the publication of the OVVs findings, the group is exploring how to optimise
the process of sharing information and conducting risk analyses, within the existing division
of labour. This includes looking at how other countries approach this process, what we can
learn from their experiences and how they can be applied in the Dutch context. We are
currently considering whether the meetings should become a permanent fixture and will of
course take the OVVs conclusions and recommendations into account. The next meeting is
planned for after the summer recess.
Evaluation of the crisis organisation
The independent evaluation of the national crisis management organisation in the aftermath
of the MH17 disaster is in full swing. The evaluation is being conducted by a team of
independent researchers from the University of Twente at the request of the Ministry of
Justices Research and Documentation Centre (WODC). As previously mentioned, the
results of the evaluation are expected in autumn 2015.


Mortal remains from MH17 to Schiphol
News item | 25-09-2015 | 17:07

A Dutch team is in the Ukraine for the first hand-over of mortal remains and personal belongings of MH17 victims found after 1 May 2015. The team of eight persons from Defence, the police and Foreign Affairs will also collect remains of the aircraft.

The presumed mortal remains and the material were found in the vicinity of the burned site near Hrabove, where flight MH17 came down. The mayors of the surrounding districts collected everything and secured their safety over the past few months. This had also been agreed when the repatriation mission was wound up. Inhabitants of the villages around the disaster area can continue to hand in items at certain points.

The Dutch team is now supervising the proper hand-over of mortal remains, personal property and any available pieces of wreckage. The Dutch embassy in Kiev will take care of transport to Kharkiv. From Kharkiv these items will come to the Netherlands. The remains of the MH17 aircraft will be handed over to the Research Council for Security and the Public Prosecutors Office.

Changed ceremony
Since the identification process has been largely completed, the ceremonial formalities with which the mortal remains were to be received in the Netherlands have been changed. Staff from the National Forensic Investigation Team will bring the mortal remains on a scheduled flight to Schiphol. Here a formal moment of reflection will be held. Members of the Royal Netherlands Military Police will take care at Schiphol of an appropriate ceremonial reception. That will take place out of sight of the media. The families of the 2 victims who have not yet been identified have been invited to attend this ceremony.

JIT countries choose the Netherlands for MH17 crash prosecution
News item | 05-07-2017 | 17:01

The prosecution of suspects in the downing of flight MH17 can take place in the Netherlands. This is the collective decision of the countries whose investigative authorities together make up the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands. The criminal investigation being carried out by the JIT is still in progress. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) will take appropriate decisions regarding criminal prosecution at the appropriate time. The national proceedings in the Netherlands will be rooted in close and continued international cooperation and support. The choice of the Dutch legal system is an important step towards trying the suspects in the downing of flight MH17.

This was written in a letter from Minister Blok of Security and Justice and Minister Koenders of Foreign Affairs, presented to the House of Representatives today. After the Russian Federations veto of a UN-mandated tribunal in a UN Security Council meeting on 29 July 2015, the JIT countries looked into other possibilities for prosecution and trial. Two options were then considered in further legal detail, the establishment of a new international tribunal, or national proceedings conducted in and by one of the JIT countries.

Further steps
The OM recently informed the government that the JIT's criminal investigation requires a decision regarding the method of prosecution and trial. To be able to take further steps in the criminal investigation, clarity is needed as to the legal framework in which the proceedings will take place.

The investigation into those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 is a long and drawn-out task in which progress is made one step at a time. Extensive research is being conducted to identify individuals who can be held responsible. It is crucial that the JIT be able to take the subsequent steps in the investigation independently and without political interference in order to maximise the chance of a trial.

All JIT countries have expressed their full confidence in the Dutch legal system. The OM issued a recommendation on the two prosecution options under consideration. Based on this overall picture, the Dutch government also expressed its preference for national prosecution in the Netherlands. The Dutch legal system has an excellent international reputation. Trials can take place here within established and proven frameworks. Surviving relatives in the Netherlands are also well looked after within the process.

International cooperation
National prosecution in the Netherlands will still require the necessary preparations. For instance, a treaty with Ukraine is needed in order to arrange the transfer of criminal proceedings. This will allow the perpetrators to be tried on behalf of all victims, and not only those who were Dutch citizens. The treaty will be signed on 7 July and will be presented along with the implementing legislation to the House of Representatives for consideration as soon as possible. Furthermore, the close cooperation of the JIT partners is expected to be endorsed this year through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) by all countries involved, in which they will make a long-term political and financial commitment to the prosecution efforts.

MH17: The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia responsible
News item | 25-05-2018 | 10:37

The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17. The government took a decision on this matter, on the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok. Our two countries have informed Russia of their decision.

The downing of flight MH17 caused unimaginable suffering, said Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok. The government has always said that the truth surrounding the MH17 disaster had to be brought to light and that justice must be achieved for the victims and their next of kin. The Netherlands has the support of the international community in this respect. On the basis of the JITs conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable.

State responsibility comes into play when states fail to uphold the provisions of international law. A state can then be held responsible for breaching one or more of those provisions. This is the legal avenue that the Netherlands and Australia have now chosen to pursue. Both countries hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17.

Holding a state responsible is a complex legal process, and there are several ways to do this. The Netherlands and Australia today asked Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused by the downing of MH17. A possible next step is to present the case to an international court or organisation for their judgment.

Holding Russia accountable for its part in the downing of flight MH17 on the basis of international law is a course of action that is separate from the criminal investigation and any prosecution and trial of the perpetrators of the downing of flight MH17. The investigation by the JIT continues, and it is up to the Public Prosecution Service to decide if and when individuals will be identified as suspects and indicted.

We call on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of flight MH17 and their next of kin, said the minister.


Dutch and Australian Foreign Ministers meet to discuss state responsibility of Russia in downing of MH17
News item | 25-09-2018 | 22:16

Foreign minister Stef Blok and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne have spoken in New York about their countries joint decision to hold Russia responsible for its part in downing flight MH17.

At the end of May the Netherlands and Australia asked Russia to enter into negotiations with us on the matter of state responsibility, said minister Blok. The Netherlands and Australia have been in contact with Russia through our diplomatic channels. Its important that the negotiations can start in the foreseeable future.

Although they had previously spoken, this was the first meeting between minister Blok and Payne, who succeeded Julie Bishop this month. The Netherlands values the excellent cooperation with Australia with regard to MH17. We are fully confident that we can continue to work together productively in the future', Blok remarked.

Earlier today ministers Blok and Payne briefed their colleagues from the other countries of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) about their decision to hold Russia responsible. Another subject discussed at this meeting was the criminal investigation. It was a good meeting, and once again, it was clear that the JIT countries have a shared goal: establishing the truth behind the downing of MH17 and prosecuting those responsible, minister Blok said. The JITs independent investigation has our unconditional support, and we reaffirmed this during our meeting.

In May the JIT presented evidence demonstrating that the Buk installation used to shoot down flight MH17 belonged to the Russian army. The JITs conclusions are far-reaching and serious. More and more pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, minister Blok noted. We and the other JIT countries again call on all countries to accept the facts established by the JIT.

Suspects to be prosecuted for the downing of flight MH17
News item | 19-06-2019 | 13:41

Today, the next of kin of the victims of the downing of flight MH17 were informed that the prosecution of 4 suspects is to begin. This decision by the Dutch Public Prosecutors Office (PPO) has the unanimous support of the investigation authorities of the other countries in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT): Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The criminal investigation into the involvement of other persons continues. The JIT therefore put out another call for witnesses today.

The government considers this decision by the PPO to be an important step towards establishing the truth and achieving justice for the victims and their next of kin. On 17 July 2014 flight MH17 was downed over the east of Ukraine killing all 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch nationals. Immediately after the crash the PPO started a criminal investigation with its JIT partners. Step by step, progress is being made. The government greatly appreciates the work that has been done so far.

The JIT countries decided two years ago that the prosecution and trial of the suspects would take place in the Netherlands, under Dutch law. The proceedings in the Netherlands will be rooted in close and continued international cooperation and support. It has been decided that the district court of The Hague will hear the case, and that the hearings will take place at Justice Complex Schiphol (JCS).
The PPO will present the case to an independent court in a public hearing under the Dutch legal system, which provides all the necessary safeguards for suspects and a solid legal position for the next of kin. All the practical preparations for a trial have been put in place. The first session is expected to take place on the 9th of March 2020.

17 … ruari-2020
De Minister van Justitie en Veiligheid,
Ferd Grapperhaus

Mede namens de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken informeer ik hierbij uw Kamer
over de laatste stand van zaken in het MH17-dossier.
Voorbereiding van het strafproces
Op 9 maart 2020 om tien uur in de ochtend gaat het strafproces inzake MH17 van
start. Hierbij staan drie verdachten met de Russische nationaliteit en één
verdachte met de Oekraïense nationaliteit terecht voor hun rol bij het neerhalen
van vlucht MH17. Het proces wordt gevoerd volgens Nederlands strafprocesrecht
door de Rechtbank Den Haag. De Rechtbank houdt hiervoor zitting in de extra
beveiligde rechtbank op het Justitieel Complex Schiphol (JCS). JCS beschikt over
de nodige faciliteiten om een proces van deze omvang te laten plaatsvinden. Niet
alle nabestaanden, media en overige geïnteresseerden, waaronder internationale
vertegenwoordigers kunnen echter een plek krijgen in de zittingszaal. Aan
nabestaanden wordt de mogelijkheid geboden om in besloten kring, samen met
andere nabestaanden en onder begeleiding en toelichting van het OM,
familierechercheurs en Slachtofferhulp Nederland de zittingen door middel van
een live videoverbinding bij te wonen. Dit kan op een zogenoemde satellietlocatie.
Ook heeft de rechtbank Den Haag aangegeven zo veel mogelijk mensen
wereldwijd in de gelegenheid te willen stellen het proces te volgen. Om die reden
is ervoor gekozen het hele proces via een live stream in beeld te brengen. Verder
heeft de Rechtbank direct naast JCS een perscentrum ingericht met een live
videoverbinding naar de zittingszaal en voldoende werkplekken voor journalisten
van over de hele wereld. De overige drie zittingszalen op JCS zijn beschikbaar
voor geïnteresseerden om de zitting via de live videoverbinding met de
zittingszaal bij te wonen.
Het bijwonen via een live videoverbinding op de satellietlocatie, de andere
zittingszalen op JCS en in het perscentrum houdt in dat de aanwezigen alle zes de
cameraposities in de zittingszaal kunnen zien en zelf kunnen kiezen welk beeld ze
bekijken. Bij de livestream wordt door de regie een keuze gemaakt voor één van
de zes cameraposities.
Zorg voor nabestaanden
Zoals in januari 2019 aan uw Kamer is gemeld (Kamerstukken II 2018/19, 33
997, nr. 130) hebben nabestaanden in een Nederlands strafproces een bijzondere
positie met specifieke rechten. Het Openbaar Ministerie is verantwoordelijk voor
het informeren van de nabestaanden over het proces en de positie en rechten van
de nabestaanden daarin. De start van het strafproces zal voor veel nabestaanden
ongetwijfeld veel emoties met zich meebrengen. De betrokken organisaties
hebben er alles aan gedaan om de nabestaanden in Nederland en daarbuiten, hier
zo goed mogelijk op voor te bereiden en hierbij te begeleiden.
Hiertoe heeft het OM in september 2019 een voorlichtingsbijeenkomst
georganiseerd. De informatie die deze dag is gedeeld met de aanwezige
nabestaanden, is diezelfde dag met alle Nederlandse en buitenlandse
nabestaanden gedeeld. Daarnaast heeft een groot aantal nabestaanden in het
najaar een gesprek gehad met een officier van justitie over de impact van het
neerhalen van vlucht MH17. Tevens heeft het OM aan alle landen met
slachtoffers, de Grieving Nations, aangeboden om met hun nabestaanden te
spreken. Daar is ook gebruik van gemaakt, zo zijn de slachtofferofficier MH17,
twee familierechercheurs en een vertegenwoordiger van Slachtofferhulp
Nederland op uitnodiging afgereisd naar Australië en het Verenigd Koninkrijk
alwaar informatiebijeenkomsten met nabestaanden hebben plaatsgevonden.
Aanwezigheid van de verdachten
Een Nederlands advocatenkantoor zal één van de Russische verdachten bijstaan.
Als een advocaat bepaaldelijk gemachtigd is door de verdachte om hem te
vertegenwoordigen in het strafproces, dan is sprake van een berechting in
aanwezigheid, ondanks dat de verdachte niet zelf aanwezig is in de rechtszaal.
Voor de verdachten die niet aanwezig zijn in de rechtszaal en die geen advocaat
hebben gemachtigd om hen te vertegenwoordigen, zal de rechtbank moeten
beoordelen of het strafproces niettemin kan doorgaan, in welk geval de
verdachten bij verstek worden berecht.
Brief van de Russische Federatie over overdracht van strafvervolging
Op 17 oktober 2019 ontving het Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid een brief van
de Russische autoriteiten. In de brief vragen de Russische autoriteiten of
Nederland wil overwegen de strafvervolging van de drie Russische verdachten aan
Rusland over te dragen. Hierop is door de Minister van Justitie en Veiligheid
geantwoord dat de overdracht van strafvervolging ten aanzien van de drie
Russische verdachten door de Nederlandse autoriteiten geen optie is en niet in
overweging is genomen. In het kader van het voorkomen van straffeloosheid is
daarbij wel aan de Russische autoriteiten gevraagd of zij bereid zijn om in overleg
de mogelijkheden te onderzoeken om een opgelegd vonnis aan de Russische
autoriteiten over te dragen en eventuele straffen in Rusland tot uitvoering te laten
Internationale inbedding van het strafproces
Het is een gezamenlijk besluit van de JIT-landen dat een vervolging en het
strafproces in Nederland kan plaatsvinden, ingebed in internationale
samenwerking en steun. In dat kader zijn door de landen van het Joint
Investigation Team (JIT) zowel een politiek als financieel Memorandum of
Understanding ondertekend (Kamerstuk 33 997, nr. 108 en Kamerstuk 33 997,
nr. 131). Tijdens de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties in september
2019 is door de Ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken de JIT-samenwerking opnieuw
De overige grieving nations, belangrijke partnerlanden en internationale
organisaties worden met regelmaat actief geïnformeerd over de ontwikkelingen
rondom de aanvang van het strafproces en zijn gewezen op de mogelijkheden om
het proces te kunnen volgen. Voor internationale vertegenwoordigers is een
beperkt aantal plaatsen beschikbaar om het proces te kunnen bijwonen, zodat
ook de buitenlandse nabestaanden die niet aanwezig kunnen zijn bij het proces
vertegenwoordigd zijn.
Nederland vraagt, waar mogelijk samen met andere JIT-partners, in
internationaal verband voortdurend en actief aandacht en steun voor het belang
van waarheidsvinding en gerechtigheid voor de slachtoffers en de nabestaanden
en rekenschap voor de daders van het neerhalen van vlucht MH17. Zoals aan uw
Kamer gemeld in de Ruslandbrief (Kamerstuk 35 373, nr. 1) blijft het kabinet in
dat kader ook Rusland voortdurend oproepen volledige medewerking te verlenen
aan het strafrechtelijk onderzoek, in lijn met VN-Resolutie 2166 en vraagt
hiervoor ook actief steun aan internationale partners. Het mobiliseren en
behouden van internationale steun is en blijft voor het kabinet prioriteit. Ook in
aanloop naar het strafproces dat aanvangt op 9 maart aanstaande.

Voortzetting van het strafrechtelijk onderzoek door het Joint
Investigation Team (JIT)

Parallel aan het onderzoek ter terechtzitting naar de rol van de vier verdachten bij
het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 gaat het strafrechtelijk onderzoek naar de
mogelijke rol van andere personen gewoon door. Zoals het JIT in haar
persconferentie op 19 juni 2019 heeft aangegeven, wordt verder onderzoek
gedaan naar de opdrachtgevers in de bestuurlijke en militaire hiërarchie en
andere betrokkenen. In het kader van het onderzoek heeft het JIT op 14
november 2019 een nieuwe getuigenoproep gedaan met als doel om nieuwe
informatie te verzamelen.



1/05/2020 … 17-dossier

Kamerbrief diverse onderwerpen over MH17 dossier
Minister Blok informeert de Tweede Kamer over diverse onderwerpen inzake MH17 dossier.

Geachte voorzitter,
Mede namens de minister van Justitie en Veiligheid informeer ik hierbij uw Kamer achtereenvolgens over de uitvoering van de Motie van Dam c.s. over een vollediger nader feitenonderzoek inzake de sluiting van het luchtruim boven en rondom het oosten van Oekraïne (Kamerstuk 33997, nr. 145) en de stand van zaken ten aanzien van de Nederlandse interventie in de individuele klachtprocedures voor het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens. Ook wordt in voorliggende brief teruggeblikt op het verloop van de eerste zittingsronde van het strafproces MH17 dat op 9 maart jl. van start is gegaan, inclusief de internationale inbedding en steun hiervoor. Uitvoering motie van Dam c.s. vollediger nader feitenonderzoek inzake de sluiting van het luchtruim boven en rondom het oosten van Oekraïne Op 7 oktober 2019 heeft uw Kamer de motie van Dam c.s. aangenomen. Deze motie verzoekt de regering te inventariseren welke opties er zijn om tot een vollediger nader feitenonderzoek te komen inzake de sluiting van het luchtruim boven en rondom het oosten van Oekraïne en de Kamer daarover te informeren (Kamerstuk 33997, nr. 145). In deze Kamerbrief wordt uw Kamer nader geïnformeerd over de wijze waarop de motie wordt uitgevoerd.
In het kader van de uitvoering van de motie zijn door het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken onderzoeksvragen opgesteld. Deze onderzoeksvragen zoals opgenomen in het daartoe opgestelde programma van eisen (Terms of Reference) vormen het kader voor het uit te voeren onderzoek. De onderzoeksvragen zien op de volgende deelonderwerpen:
i) Een representatieve inventarisatie van de statelijke praktijk van het gebruik van vliegroutes door de burgerluchtvaart boven conflictzones in de afgelopen 20-30 jaar;
ii) Een feitelijk onderzoek naar de sluiting van het luchtruim boven het o osten van Oekraïne vanaf 1 maart 2014 tot de volledige sluitingdaarvan na het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 op 17 juli 2014;

iii) Een feitelijk onderzoek naar de sluiting van het luchtruim boven het grondgebied van de Russische Federatie grenzend aan het oosten van Oekraïne vanaf 1 maart 2014 tot de volledige
     sluiting daarvan na het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 op 17 juli 2014.

Om de schijn van partijdigheid te voorkomen heeft het kabinet ervoor gekozen buitenlandse, non-gouvernementele organisaties te benaderen met de vraag of zij het onderzoek kunnen uitvoeren. Met de Flight Safety Foundation, een onafhankelijke organisatie zonder winstoogmerk, die zich richt op luchtvaartveiligheid is een overeenkomst gesloten voor de uitvoering van het onderzoek. De duur van het onderzoek betreft vier tot maximaal zes maanden. Het is echter niet uit te sluiten dat vanwege de geldende reisbeperkingen om de verspreiding van COVID-19 tegen te gaan de uitvoering van het onderzoek meer tijd in beslag zal nemen.
Zoals aan uw Kamer gemeld in de Kamerbrief van 12 februari jl. (Kamerstuk 33997, nr. 150) heeft de Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken reeds contact gehad met zijn Oekraïense en Russische ambtgenoten over bovengenoemde motie en de uitvoering daarvan. Ook via diplomatieke kanalen is er contact over de uitvoering van de motie en thans worden zowel de Russische Federatie als Oekraïne geïnformeerd over de laatste stand van zaken zoals vermeld in deze Kamerbrief. Daarbij zal ook het belang dat het kabinet hecht aan medewerking van zowel Oekraïne als de Russische Federatie nogmaals worden benadrukt.
Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens
Verschillende groepen nabestaanden zijn individuele klachtprocedures gestart bij het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens (EHRM) tegen de Russische Federatie voor het neerhalen van vlucht MH17.
De individuele klachtprocedures bij het EHRM, het strafrechtelijk onderzoek en het strafproces, en de aansprakelijkstelling door Nederland en Australië van de Russische Federatie onder internationaal recht zijn separate (juridische) trajecten. Al deze trajecten zijn gericht op waarheidsvinding, gerechtigheid en rekenschap voor het neerhalen van vlucht MH17. Deze verschillende trajecten sluiten elkaar niet uit, en kunnen parallel plaatsvinden.
Op 10 mei 2019 heeft het kabinet bekend gemaakt dat Nederland zal interveniëren in de individuele klachtprocedures van nabestaanden bij het EHRM.
Zoals ook gemeld in de brief aan uw Kamer van 12 februari jl., wordt momenteel met de Nederlandse betrokken partijen bezien wanneer de interventie ingediend kan worden. Daarbij wordt rekening gehouden met de ontwikkelingen in het strafproces en de planning van het EHRM met betrekking tot procedures waarin het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 aan de orde is.
Omdat het EHRM nog geen deadline heeft gesteld voor de indiening van de interventie door Nederland, is het op dit moment mogelijk de ontwikkelingen in het strafproces voorlopig af te wachten. Het kabinet ziet, voor zover de planning van het EHRM dat toelaat, meerwaarde in het afwachten van nadere ontwikkelingen in het strafproces voordat de interventie zal worden ingediend.

Terugblik eerste zittingsronde strafproces
Op 9 maart jl. is het strafproces tegen vier verdachten van start gegaan voor hun rol bij het neerhalen van vlucht MH17. De vier verdachten waren niet aanwezig in de rechtszaal. Eén verdachte, de heer Pulatov, laat zich door twee Nederlandse advocaten vertegenwoordigen. De rechter heeft geoordeeld dat het proces tegen deze verdachte op tegenspraak plaatsvindt en de andere drie verdachten worden berecht bij verstek. Het feit dat verdediging wordt gevoerd namens één van de vier verdachten is van waarde voor de rechtsgang. Wel zal dit naar verwachting betekenen dat het proces meer tijd in beslag zal nemen. De eerste zittingsdag vond onder veel belangstelling van nabestaanden, internationale vertegenwoordigers en (internationale) media plaats op het Justitieel Complex Schiphol (JCS). Tevens heeft een groep nabestaanden op de satellietlocatie de zitting via een liveverbinding kunnen bijwonen. Daarbij waren een officier van justitie, familierechercheurs en vertegenwoordigers van slachtofferhulp Nederland aanwezig. Ook is op iedere zittingsdag in de zittingszaal op het JCS ruimte gereserveerd voor nabestaanden.
De eerste zittingsperiode was procedureel en inventariserend van aard. Het OM heeft de ten laste legging voorgedragen waarbij alle namen van de 298 slachtoffers zijn genoemd. De rechtbank heeft op 23 maart jl. enkele tussenbeslissingen genomen op verschillende verzoeken die door de procespartijen zijn ingediend. Vanwege de COVID-19-maatregelen vond deze zitting in beperkte samenstelling en zonder publiek plaats. Het proces zal volgens planning op 8 juni 2020 weer verder gaan.
Alle zittingen zijn via de livestream op, zowel in het Nederlands als Engels, wereldwijd te volgen. Zoals in de beantwoording van de Kamervragen van 7 april 2020 (Aanhangsel, nr. 2370) over de Russische vertaling van het MH17-proces is gemeld, heeft het digitale en televisie netwerk Current time (nastojasja vremja), dat wordt beheerd door Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty aangegeven de intentie te hebben toekomstige zittingen in het MH17-strafproces te vertalen in het Russisch. Specifiek wordt het livestreamen van de volgende zitting van 8 juni as. gepland. Deze Russische livestream zal via relevante communicatiekanalen actief onder de aandacht worden gebracht.
Internationale inbedding van en steun voor het strafproces
Zoals gemeld in de Kamerbrief stand van zaken MH17-dossier van 12 februari jl. (Kamerstuk 33 997, nr. 150) vindt het strafproces plaats in Nederland, ingebed in internationale steun en samenwerking. Op 6 maart jl. is door Nederland, namens alle landen van het Joint Investigation Team (JIT), de VN-Veiligheidsraad (VNVR) per brief (nr. S/2020/181) geïnformeerd over de aanvang van het strafproces, een belangrijke stap richting waarheidsvinding, gerechtigheid en rekenschap. Tevens is in deze brief nogmaals verwezen naar het belang van medewerking door alle staten aan het strafrechtelijk onderzoek, in lijn met VN- Resolutie 2166.
Op 8 april jl. heeft de Russische Federatie onder verwijzing naar bovengenoemde brief bespreking van de kwestie gevraagd onder het agendapunt any other business in de VN-Veiligheidsraad. Tijdens deze bijeenkomst werd door een ruime meerderheid van de deelnemende landen krachtig steun uitgesproken voor de inzet van Nederland en de JIT-partners. Na afloop van deze sessie is namens de EU-VNVR leden eveneens een gezamenlijke persverklaring uitgebracht, waarin de gebrekkige Russische medewerking aan het strafrechtelijk onderzoek wordt betreurd en het belang van waarheidsvinding en gerechtigheid voor de 298 slachtoffers en hun nabestaanden nogmaals is onderstreept.

De voortdurende brede internationale steun voor het streven naar waarheidsvinding, gerechtigheid en rekenschap voor het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 wordt door het kabinet zeer gewaardeerd. Ook in aanloop naar het strafproces heeft zowel de EU, met steun van alle 27 lidstaten, een publieke steunverklaring uitgebracht, evenals de SG van de NAVO. Tevens was er aandacht voor de start van het strafproces in OVSE-verband en de Raad van Europa. Ook hebben Grieving Nations en andere partners publieke steunverklaringen uitgebracht. Tevens waren bij de eerste zittingsdagen van het strafproces internationale vertegenwoordigers van de Grieving Nations en JIT-landen aanwezig.
Voortzetting samenwerking Joint Investigation Team
Voorafgaand aan de eerste zittingsdag hebben de opsporings- en vervolgingsautoriteiten van de JIT-landen (Australië, België, Maleisië, Oekraïne en Nederland) een krans gelegd bij het monument in Vijfhuizen voor de 298 slachtoffers van het neerhalen van vlucht MH17. Aangezien het strafrechtelijk onderzoek van het JIT nog steeds doorgaat, hebben de betreffende opsporings- en vervolgingsautoriteiten ook de voortzetting van de samenwerking nogmaals vastgelegd middels de ondertekening van de verlenging van de JIT-overeenkomst.
Tot slot
Het bewerkstelligen van waarheidsvinding, gerechtigheid en rekenschap voor het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 blijft voor het kabinet de hoogste prioriteit en de inzet onverminderd groot. De afgelopen jaren zijn hiertoe verschillende stappen op diverse sporen gezet. Om de inzet voor een breed publiek inzichtelijk te maken, is een interactief overzicht in tijd opgesteld in het Nederlands en Engels ( Een PDF-versie hiervan treft uw Kamer bijgevoegd aan.
De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken,
Stef Blok



The Flight Safety Foundation

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