Dutch Safety Board report sheds light on MH17 disaster

According to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the report by the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) has 'shed much light' on the disaster involving flight MH17. Mr Rutte's comments came after the report's release on Tuesday. 'Today we finally have an answer to that all-important question: what exactly happened on 17 July 2014?,' he said.

Mr Rutte said the presentation of the Safety Board's report was hard-hitting, first and foremost for the families of the victims. 'The Safety Board's completed report, the animated reconstruction of the impact and the reconstructed fuselage have brought back that pitch-black day, 17 July 2014.'

The report confirms 'our most terrible suspicions,' the prime minister said. 'On 17 July 2014 in eastern Ukraine a passenger plane was shot down in broad daylight by a Buk missile.'

The government will now study the conclusions and recommendations of the report carefully.
'The lessons are an important and valuable aspect of this report and they will be addressed in the government's response,' said Mr Rutte.

The prime minister also pointed out that, with the completion of the Safety Board's report, the second of the government's three priorities has now been addressed. The first priority was repatriation, the second was to shed light on the cause of the disaster. 'The clear factual account, the unequivocal conclusions and the recommendations presented today have brought this task to a completion.' he said.

The third and final priority is to track down and prosecute those responsible. The criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (comprising public prosecutors from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium) is ongoing. The government expects all states to cooperate, as demanded by UN Security Council resolution 2166.

You can read Mr Rutte's full statement here:

  • Good afternoon. Today, much light has been shed on a complex matter.
  • The chairman of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV), Mr Tjibbe Joustra, has just presented the conclusions and recommendations of the international investigation into the circumstances of the disaster involving flight MH17. The words and images were poignant and hard-hitting, first and foremost for the families of the victims. For them, this is a difficult day full of emotion and grief. The Safety Board's completed report, the animated reconstruction of the impact and the reconstructed fuselage have brought back that pitch-black day, 17 July 2014.
  • Today we finally have an answer to that all-important question: what exactly happened on 17 July 2014? This is what the report addresses. It answers many questions that were raised after the disaster and that have remained on the minds of the families. That is why it is so important that the Safety Board held a special meeting with the victims' families this morning. I hope the completion of this investigation will help them process this traumatic experience.
  • This morning I spoke to the chairman of the foundation of the surviving relatives, Mr Van Zijtveld, on the phone. It is perfectly clear that the surviving relatives both did and did not look forward to this day.
  • The Safety Board has completed a monumental task, as we can see from the size of the report. Its pages contain the outcome of a meticulous, extensive and independent investigation, carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). I would like to express my great appreciation for the work of the Dutch Safety Board. This has been a difficult task in more than one respect.
  • The Dutch government will give a more detailed response at a later date. As you will understand, we have not yet had the opportunity to study the report in detail. We will do so with great care, and will respond as soon as possible.
  • But what I can say today is that the second of the government's priorities in this matter has now been addressed. The first priority was the repatriation and identification of the victims. That was our number-one priority from the very beginning.
  • This report sheds much light on the cause of the disaster. And that was our second priority. The words and images Mr Joustra just used have confirmed some of our most terrible suspicions. On 17 July 2014 in eastern Ukraine a passenger plane was shot down in broad daylight by a Buk missile. The clear factual account, the unequivocal conclusions and the recommendations presented today have brought this task to a completion. There are lessons to be learned, at domestic and international level. For instance, Mr Joustra spoke about airspace safety. Another example is the coordination of passenger manifests, which is also discussed in the report. These lessons are an important and valuable aspect of this report and they will be addressed in the government's response.
  • Priority number three is tracking down and prosecuting those responsible. And as you know, that investigation is ongoing. The Safety Board's report is a new element to be added to that investigation - undoubtedly a key building block. UN Security Council resolution 2166 remains our guiding principle. The resolution demands that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. Fred Westerbeke of the Public Prosecution Service will say more about that later this afternoon.
  • We must continue to bear in mind that the road to prosecution is hard and complex. It will take time and - again - a great deal of patience. It is important that the public prosecutors are able to do their work independently and undisturbed. We have seen the value of that today. The report tells us now what happened. But providing legal and compelling evidence of who is - or are - responsible is an entirely different discipline.
  • As with the first two priorities, again we must act with the utmost care and restraint. As the leader of this international investigation, the Netherlands can be expected to display an even greater degree of reserve in this respect. By exercising an appropriate degree of caution, we will be able to stay on course. I do understand that some people may be tempted to draw hasty conclusions after today. And I recognise that feeling. But the judicial process is complex enough, and we should refrain from doing anything that could impede it. It is important now to continue to do everything we can to ensure that the guilty parties do not escape justice. That is a duty we have and it is a duty I feel. It is what the families are entitled to expect of us. Today they need our support again, and I sincerely hope they know that we will continue to stand by them.
  • Thank you.