13:49 Jul. 16, 2016
Images, published by Russian Defense Ministry in July 2014, were "so heavily manipulated that they lack any credibility as evidence", Bellingcat says
The Russian Defense Ministry used misdated and edited satellite images of the MH17 crash to put the responsibility for the Malaysian Airliner shootdown on Ukraine.
This is alleged by the independent investigation group Bellingcat in the new report "MH17 – The open source investigation, Two Years Later". The document was presented two days before the second anniversary of the catastrophe, which took place in the separatist-controlled parts of Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2016.
Russia has numerously accused Ukraine of downing the plane and killing all 298 people on board. Moscow brought up several versions of Kyiv's involvement, gradually changing its allegations regarding the weapon behind the crash. At various times the Kremlin suggested MH17 had been shot down by a Ukraine's fighter jet, later replacing the story with a Ukrainian BUK anti-air system.
The Bellingcat's latest report, which provides analysis of the inquiry into the crash, claims the photos, released by the Russian Defense Ministry in support of its theories were "so heavily manipulated that they lack any credibility as evidence".
International experts examined the images at Bellingcat's request. They used forensic analysis software Tungstene to assess the reliability of the materials.
"The satellite imagery from the Russian Ministry of Defense was heavily edited, including the addition of clouds and Buk missile launchers to some images," Higgins said in an interview with RFE/RL.
The Bellingcat's report hints that Moscow hid the original images. The experts "recommend Russia should release them to the Joint Investigation Team".
Earlier the Dutch investigators said a BUK anti-air system was the weapon behind the MH17 shootdown. Bellingcat experts confirmed this theory, claiming they managed to pinpoint the exact Russian brigade which was operating the system at the time of the catastrophe.
"The BUK belonged to the 2nd battalion of Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft brigade", Higgins said.
On the eve of the second anniversary, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said, preliminary conclusions from the forensic investigation, started two years ago, could become available later this year.
Based on reporting of RFE/RL and Reuters