There have been two new developments in the long-awaited criminal investigation report into MH17 over the last couple of weeks. Though you might’ve read about one, you’re far less likely to have heard about the other — more important — one.
What could be seen as an interim report on the progress of the criminal investigation into the downing of MH17 wasn’t announced at a big press conference, nor did it grab the headlines in the main corporate media outlets. Signed by Fred Westerbeke, the Dutch prosecutor leading the international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) investigating MH17, the report took the form of a letter sent to family members of the victims.
But not all family members received the letter. In what has all the appearances of having been an incredibly insensitive and vindictive move by someone, Denise Kenke, daughter of Willem Grootscholten, one of the victims of the tragedy, didn’t hear about the interim report either. Not first hand, at least.
Miss Kenke is the only family member to have lodged a case charging the Ukraine Government with culpable negligence at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). An 11-page application was filed as early as November 17, 2014. And if that’s another thing you didn’t hear from in the corporate media, it might be because the ECHR has imposed a blackout covering all details of the case, which also prevents website access.
You could be forgiven for thinking a blackout of information on such a high-profile case might be something British corporate hacks would be clawing at each other to get to the bottom of. But no, they have shown as little interest in that as they have in the Fred Westerbeke letter.
Time to let a Dead Cat out of the Bag
That’s not to say two of Britain’s leading smarmsheets didn’t report anything on MH17 this week. The Independent and the Guardian both published stories on Wednesday, February 24th. And, by some amazing coincidence, both stories centred on the completely different, unofficial report.
So similar were the stories conjured up by Lizzie Dearden and Alec Luhn they could have been penned by Wonderland twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Not only are both centred round a Bellingcat report on MH17, released the week following Westerbeke’s letter, but both appeared on the same day within hours of one another. And, surprise, surprise, both lend support to the Bellingcat accusation that Russia was behind the downing of the plane. But the real surprise is that there was no mention by either media outlet of the fact the Westerbeke letter makes a point of discounting the re-churned ‘evidence’ contained in the Bellingcat report, despite the Guardian story referring to the letter. Or perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.
On December 26, 2015 Bellingcat has submitted a draft report to the JIT. The report has been gathered using social media and other public Internet sources, include information about members of a Russian military unit with, according to Bellingcat, a possible BUK-missile system in Ukraine.” Fred Westerbeke
In total, Westerbeke mentions Bellingcat by name no less than eight times in his letter, even if it was only to eventually conclude the report was a load of cobblers.
No evidence of direct involvement of individual members of this unit at the shooting of the MH17 follows from the report of Bellingcat.” Fred Westerbeke
You wouldn’t have guessed that from reading Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Independent report opened with this little insight.
The missile system used to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was transported into Ukraine by Russian soldiers with “high-level” authorisation, a new report has claimed.” Lizzie Dearden
Not to be outdone, in the Guardian’s pick’n’mix Alec Luhn chooses to meld Fred Westerbeke’s letter with Bellingcat’s report, in order to lend the latter more credence, amazingly enough.
The head of the MH17 investigation, Fred Westerbeke, told victims’ families in a letter last week that finding and prosecuting those responsible “could take a long time”. But the new report raises the likelihood that “justice could be served”, Bellingcat head Eliot Higgins told the Guardian. Although names were changed and faces blurred in the public report, the identities were provided in a version given to Dutch prosecutors in December.” Alec Luhn
All this in spite of the fact Fred Westerbeke seeks to emphasise — as part of his reason for sending the letter — his intention of clarifying any confusion some family members of the victims might suffer from believing evidence like Bellingcat’s is solid enough to be used in a court of law.
Recently, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice informed the Lower House of radar and satellite data, the research collective Bellingcat and prosecution capabilities. The same issues are also discussed in a public hearing in the House. I noticed that among family members of the deceased there are still questions about this.” Fred Westerbeke
Unfortunately, parts of the English translation from the original Dutch are very poor. Nevertheless, for both Independent and the Guardian journalists to completely misinform their readers by repeating the discounted evidence raised in the Bellingcat report is nothing less than despicable.
To read the full Independent and Guardian articles follow the links: MH17: Buk missile system used to down plane ‘transported to Ukraine rebels by Russian soldiers’, report claims and MH17 report identifies Russian soldiers suspected of downing plane in Ukraine.
To judge by the translation it certainly looks as though the Westerbeke letter was cobbled together in bit of a rush. Rather than take the Bellingcat ‘report’ seriously journalists should be asking why such an experienced prosecutor as Westerbeke felt the urgent need to address questions about the Bellingcat ‘research’ he noticed some families of the victims feel haven’t been answered satisfactorily.
Most likely it was due to a real concern for those families, as they have been bombarded with contradictions, lies and disinformation over the last eighteen months, coming mainly from the corporate media. References mentioning Bellingcat specifically — as opposed to other sources — suggest there was information indicating Eliot Higgins was about to release his ‘evidence’ prematurely and Westerbeke decided to pre-empt it. The pain of reading another bag of disinformation produced by the dead cat factory could cause a lot of unnecessary distress.
Westerbeke may have assumed experienced journalists would realise it isn’t part of his remit to judge whether the conclusions Eliot Higgins reaches from looking at his own flawed evidence are right or wrong. The job of the international investigating team is to consider what evidence is admissible in a court of law, and what is most likely to bring about a successful prosecution, should the culprits be identified and brought to justice.
The Bellingcat research collective, or whatever it now calls itself, amounts to little more than one neo-con conspiracy nut being exploited being by Western intelligence agencies to spread disinformation.
What is particularly contemptible about the Guardian and Independent stories is that neither shows any respect for the families of the victims. The journalists involved didn’t even consider how helping Eliot Higgins throw another dead cat on the table might affect their feelings.
But through the fog of lies, propaganda and confusion being created around MH17, one thing is that is becoming abundantly clear, the international Joint Investigation Team charged with investigating the crime is coming under increasing pressure to reach the ‘right’ verdict, which has Russia taking the fall. Bellingcat is just one more tool being used to apply that pressure. The fact that Independent and Guardian journalists are now also allowing themselves to be used as tools should be a cause of great concern to us all.