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Finland's MH17 investigation assistance kept secret at request of Dutch authorities

President Sauli Niinistö has expressed dismay that Dutch authorities broke their side of the deal by referring publicly to Finland's role in the MH17 investigation. In a press conference held late on Friday afternoon in Helsinki, President Niinistö stressed that Finland kept the results of their 2015 experiment with a Buk missile secret at the request of Dutch authorities carrying out a criminal investigation into the matter.

Sauli Niinistö
President Sauli Niinistö addresses a press conference on Finland's role in the MH17 investigation on September 30. Image: Yle

On Friday, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that according to the head of an international group investigating the July 2014 shooting down of the MH17 flight over Ukraine, Finland still had not provided the results of experiments carried out as part of the investigation.

In a snap press conference held at the Presidential Palace late Friday afternoon, President Sauli Niinistö stressed that Finland kept its assistance with the MH17 investigation secret at the request of Dutch authorities.

Request for assistance

Niinistö explained that the Netherlands contacted Finland in 2014 asking for assistance in the investigation and requested secrecy, which is normal during criminal investigations.

”We very carefully considered their request," said Niinistö. "We decided that, of course, Finland would help investigate the terrible crime," he said, adding that the decision was made on a very tight schedule.

In 2015, Finland was asked by Dutch authorities to explode a Buk missile in a test in Finland. Niinistö said he did not know the exact location or date of the test, as the Finnish Defence Forces carried it out.

Then, quite suddenly this September, according to Niinistö, Finland was asked to hand over material to an international investigative committee.

"Given the sensitive nature of arms deals, we had to decide what material we could hand over and what we could not," said Niinistö.

He said that Finland had carried out the test and prepared material in secret at the request of the Netherlands with the understanding that the information would potentially be used only in an international court case.

"Finland made some very bold decisions," said Niinistö.

Finnish experts will travel to the Netherlands

In order to clear up the situation, a group of Finnish experts will travel to the Netherlands soon (no specific date was provided) to clarify the situation and find out what further information is desired.

Niinstö said that Finland had informed Russia about the initial request for assistance from the Netherlands in the MH17 crash.

The reluctance in handing over the information to an international committee is problematic, said Niinistö, as commercial agreements made in connection with the acquisition of the Buk missiles is confidential.

Almost 300 people died in July 2014 when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine.

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