THE US Embassy in Bratislava has sent condolences to families of the victims of the July 17 crash of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in which 298 people died.

“This crash was a global tragedy that is felt around the world, and now there must be a credible international investigation into what happened,” Chargé d’Affaires Norman Thatcher Scharpf said, as quoted in the press release. “Those on the ground must not tamper with evidence, and they must grant investigators access to the crash site.”

The embassy also stressed that the US remains deeply concerned that the Organisation for Security and Economic Cooperation (OSCE) monitors and international investigators have been denied access to the site of the crash, as well as about reports that the remains of some victims and debris from the site have been manipulated and removed.

“While the investigation into this tragedy is ongoing, it is important to assess the evidence available,” the embassy’s press release reads.

It also stressed that discussions about how this tragedy could have been prevented should not detract from holding those who shot down the plane responsible for their actions.

“The evidence we have so far is clear and compelling, and indicates that Flight MH17 was shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine,” the press release states. “We know that Russia-backed separatist fighters have used surface-to-air missile systems to shoot down more than a dozen aircraft over the past few months, including two large transport aircraft. At the time that flight MH17 dropped out of contact, we detected a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch from a separatist-controlled area in south-eastern Ukraine.”

The US embassy also referred to a message posted to social media shortly after the crash in which the separatists claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane. After it became evident that the plane was a civilian airliner, the separatists deleted the posts.

Moreover, the embassy cited the video posted on social networking websites on July 19, showing an SA-11 on a transporter travelling through Krasnodon back to Russia. The video indicated the system was missing at least one missile, suggesting it had conducted a launch.

“Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” the embassy stressed. “The United States will continue to work within the world community to de-escalate the situation; to stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and to support the people of Ukraine as they work to strengthen their democracy and make their own decisions about how they should move forward.”

Source: US Embassy to Slovakia website

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.