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By John Helmer, Moscow 

For the first time since the Dutch Government began its prosecution of the Russian Government for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and the killing of the  298 passengers and crew on board, the court has heard what the presiding judge, Hendrik Steenhuis (lead image), has described as autopsy and post-mortem evidence from the bodies recovered from the aircraft crash scene in eastern Ukraine.

For the first time, Steenhuis has read out a scripted version of what he declares to be admissible evidence from the bodies, although the trial of this evidence has only just begun.

And for the first time – without showing he has comprehended what he has revealed —  Steenhuis confirms that only one piece of shrapnel identifiable with the alleged murder weapon, a Russian-made BUK missile, was discovered by the Dutch forensic teams, pathologists, policemen, prosecutors, and investigating judges who have been working on this evidence since the crash on July 17, 2014. If Steenhuis is telling the truth about this one bow-tie shaped piece of shrapnel from a missile warhead, another cube-shaped piece of shrapnel has disappeared from the cockpit bodies, plus one additional bow-tie and a cube reportedly found in the cockpit frame and photographed by the Dutch Safety Board in October 2015.

This one piece of metal has been admitted in evidence by Steenhuis without any chain of custody protecting it from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) since the SBU supervised autopsies of the same bodies in Kharkiv in July 2014, before sending them to The Netherlands. That is one piece of metal out of 2,600 bow-tie shapes and another 2,600 cube shapes in the BUK missile warhead Steenhuis has now ruled to have committed the crime.

For the Dutch judge this is beyond reasonable doubt.

Steenhuis commenced the second day of what he is calling the trial on the merits of the Dutch indictments against three Russian officers and one Ukrainian with a detailed summary of evidence he accepts in the proceeding.

Anglo-American practice is the reverse. In a British or American court of law, the judge presents his summary of the evidence he accepts at the conclusion of the trial – after the evidence has been presented, then tested by prosecutors and defence lawyers in direct and cross-examination of witnesses, experts, and the accused.

In the MH17 trial yesterday, June 8, Steenhuis began with a 10-minute recital of autopsy and post-mortem evidence collected, he says, from the bodies of passengers and cockpit crew at a Dutch military base after they had been flown from the Ukraine.  Listen to the archived record of Steenhuis reading here, Min 37:45 to 47:20.  

Source: https://www.youtube.com/

Steenhuis listed the autopsy and post-mortem technologies the Dutch used, including the non-invasive CT scan and the X-ray. Invasive dissection was also employed for selected bodies of the crew, according to the judge. Pictures of the apparatus the Dutch used were displayed in court at Min 41:02-41:19.

At Min 42:16 Steenhuis makes the crucial admission that the bodies had been tampered with by the Ukrainian authorities.

According to Steenhuis, a number of bodies were subjected by the Dutch to “inspection via closer invasive investigations inter alia with those bodies that had had post-mortem examinations in Ukraine”. Steenhuis did not say how many bodies these were; what their names were and their places in the aircraft; what the Ukrainians had done in their “post-mortem examinations”; and what the special Dutch police purportedly guarding the bodies before and after the Ukrainian “post-mortems” had done to prevent the introduction of metal and the faking of forensic records.

For the full record of the purported bow-tie evidence in the MH17 case, start here.

For the Dutch Safety Board report and count of missile shrapnel, read this.

Liane Theurkauf has provided the only catalogue and review available in print of all autopsy and post-mortem evidence in the MH17 case, focusing particularly on the pilot, first officer and purser in the cockpit, and two crew members, including the Team B pilot captain seated in the first-class cabinet behind the cockpit. Read  Theuerkauf’s “Fate of the cockpit crew”, Chapter 2 in the book here.

Left: the only book in print to provide the full forensic evidence, the provable evidence and the Ukrainian fabrications.   Right: The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) pictures of the bow-tie and cube shaped shrapel alleged to have come from the murder weapon, a warhead of the BUK missile. For more details of the shrapnel type for BUK warhead types, read this.  For the DSB report of October 2015, click to open.  Expert evidence published in Moscow has cast doubt on the alleged warhead source of the two bow-ties displayed by the DSB because of discrepancies in weight and mass.

On June 8 Steenhuis read out his ruling that at the Hilversum military base “autopsy was [sic] performed on five members of the crew – two captains, one first officer, and two members of the cabin crew” [Min 44:38]. Steenhuis’s use of the singular tense was misleading. He implied the Hilversum autopsy on the five crew was the first autopsy for these crew members, and thus the only source of the evidence now available to the court. This is false – Steenhuis either knows it to be false, or is incapable of knowing what evidence from the bodies of the crew is available.

In Theuerkauf’s record,  a detailed log of body wounds for the cockpit crew, including shrapnel evidence, was first prepared at the Kalinin mortuary in Donetsk, which was run by officials of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), including the chief of the Donetsk morgue, Dmitry Kalashnikov. Suspecting that the evidence of the cockpit crew might be falsified later, this log has been preserved and also reported publicly. It has been ignored by the Dutch prosecutors; by Steenhuis;  and also by the Dutch lawyers representing the Russian defendant in court, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Oleg Pulatov. Kalashnikov has not been interviewed by the Dutch investigating judges, nor by the defence lawyers.

After a team of Malaysian officials met with DPR officials, and Dutch and other European  officials followed, the bodies were taken by train out of the DPR and into Kiev-controlled territory. The bodies were then unloaded;  removed from their body bags and identifying tags prepared by the DPR;  and new procedures carried out by Ukrainian pathologists under observation by Dutch and Australian special forces. X-rays and other autopsy procedures took place before the bodies were sealed again. A Kiev government spokesman announced: “We have everything in Kharkiv, experts from international organisations and from Ukraine. They have all the facilities ready for all the forensic investigation and examination.”  

Death certificates were signed by Ukrainian officials, and later handed to the Dutch, some accompanying the bodies when they were flown from Kharkiv to Hilversum; some later.

Theuerkauf concluded: “There has been no mention in the MH17 trial of the X-rays of the cockpit crew bodies taken at Kharkiv. This detail is crucial for two reasons. Either the X-ray pictures have been preserved by the Ukrainians and Dutch, but they fail to show the characteristic shrapnel of the alleged weapon for  the attack on the aircraft, and the X-rays are being suppressed for that reason. Or else the X-ray evidence is missing, and the chain of custody for the evidence of the cockpit crew was broken at Kharkiv – a second break in the same chain. If the first is the truth, the Dutch prosecutors have been lying about what the evidence proves.”

“If the second is the truth, the prosecution claims about the shrapnel evidence are legally inadmissible.”

In his June 8 ruling Steenhuis admitted the inadmissible. He concealed the chain of custody broken in Donetsk and  Kharkiv; and by Kiev pathologists, Dutch and Australian police.  Steenhuis also endorsed evidence of one piece of bow-tie shrapnel from a warhead whose alleged detonation released 2,599 more bow-tie pieces which have disappeared entirely.

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