Question 2: Was a BUK missile launched from a farm field near Pervomaiskyi?
Main scenario: the BUK missile was launched from a farm field near Pervomaiskyi
The court discussed the documents in the case file that led the investigation team to conclude that the alleged BUK missile was launched from this farm field.
The court started by stating how the launch of a BUK missile may be observed from a corresponding BUK Telar in the area: upon the launch a flame jet will appear, there is a loud bang, and a vertical smoke trail may visibly emerge in the air. The case file contains twenty witness statements concerning observations that according to the investigation team indicate a missile launch from the area of Snizhne, Torez and Pervomaiske. The court spoke in particular about three witnesses who stated that they were nearby a missile launch from a farm field close to the village of Pervomaiskyi. Next, the court discussed several photos of a smoke trail that witnesses took around the time that Flight MH17 crashed on 17 July 2014. The court also noted a comparison of satellite footage from 16 July 2014 and 20 and 21 July 2014 by the investigation team and other organisations. According to the investigation team, the farm field near Pervomaiskyi is suited for launching a BUK missile and meets three other important conditions: the position was controlled by the separatists, the position was guarded, and it was possible to take cover there. The court reported that a video was secured as well from the blog ukraine@war. According to the investigation team, this video features a BUK-Telar riding from Snizhne southward in the direction of Pervomaiske and Pervomaiskyi on 17 July 2014 between 13.00 and 14.00 hours. The investigation team views intercepted phone calls and a chat as additional confirmation of its suspicion that the farm field at Pervomaiskyi was the actual launch site. In that chat one participant in the conversation indicates that he was present when the MH17 was shot down. Transmission mast data place his telephone in close proximity to the field at Pervomaiskyi n on 17 July 2014 around the time the MH17 went down.
Two witnesses have mentioned Amvrovsiivka in this context. This location has been rejected by the investigation team, because this site – given the range of the BUK missile – is believed to be too far from the point where Flight MH17 disappeared from the radar. Nor is anything believed to indicate this location.
There are indications that point to Zaroshchenske as a launch site. This location lies within the launch area resulting from calculations by Almaz Antey based on the damage pattern and is mentioned by a witness. Moreover, satellite footage is believed to show the BUK missile installations in a field at Zaroshchenske on 17 July. The court discussed the investigation into these indications and described the findings that led the investigation team to reject these alternatives.
Calculation of the launch area by experts
The case file comprises the report by experts from the NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre), from the Belgian RMA (Royal Military Academy) and from the Russian Almaz Antey. Based on part of the damage to the pieces of wreckage from the MH17, the experts from all three organisations calculated the area from which that BUK missile would need to have been launched to cause this damage. The court explained the principles and the method of each of these organisations and indicated which area they find. In addition, the main points of agreement between the experts and the points on which their views differ were mentioned.
The court noted the investigation conducted by the investigation team following the report from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation that the BUK missile believed to have downed Flight MH17 was supplied in 1986 by an air defence unit that became part of the Ukrainian armed forces after 1991. The statement by Almaz Antay that they had not produced any 9M38M1 missiles since 1999 was investigated as well.
Question 3: Did the accused play a role in this?
Today the court started discussing the documents concerning the possible role of the different accused. This discussion will figure in the summary tomorrow, when all documents concerning this matter have been discussed.
The court has adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10.00 hours, when the court will resume by discussing the documents concerning the possible involvement of the accused.