МАЙДАН - За вільну людину у вільній країні

Архіви Форумів Майдану

Заключение Венской экспертизы на английском языке.

06/28/2001 | Майдан-Інформ
Mr. Oleksandr Lavrynovych
Dr. Serhiy Holovaty
Secretary of the Investigative Commission
of the Supreme Council (Rada)

Vienna, 22 February 2001

On 22 December 2000 the Temporary Investigative Commission of the Supreme Council asked IPI "to facilitate an independent expert analysis of an audio tape", a task which we accepted after forming a joint venture with the New York based Freedom House. While checking the various possibilities for proper technical examination, we presented the project to the IPI Board Meeting in New Delhi, on 26 January 2001, for further approval.

Your request for an analysis " to determine the authenticity and the correspondence of the taped voices and those of state officials of Ukraine ….." could have been met with a high degree of certainty. In the meantime, it seems to be generally accepted that the taped voices are without doubt those of the alleged state officials of the Ukraine. Even the Ukrainian prosecutors were quoted as saying that parts of the recordings were genuine, but there were signs of editing so that the conversations could not be considered "real".

Thus the question focused on the content, whether the conversations on the tapes were "real", doctored or manipulated in one way or another.

We, therefore, checked with various technical experts and institutions regarding the need for a logical sequence of investigative tasks to guarantee a proper evaluation of the existing audio-taped material. There were certain difficulties in finding a technical institution which was able and willing to accomplish such a project.

Finally, we found an internationally renowned company, a leader in forensic accounting and expert in electronic evidence. They summed up the problem as follows:

The main task was now to identify the authenticity of the incriminating conversations.
The original recording was obviously done by "a digital recording device". It is assumed that this equipment was set to the voice-activated mode so as to conserve the battery and maximise the useful recording time of each tape. Voice-activation introduces breaks in recording during periods of silence or during any longer pause in speech. This results in the need to differentiate between such discontinuities and discontinuities due to doctoring of the tape or its contents.

The original recording has obviously been downloaded onto a computer for further storage and then either copied onto tapes or pressed (burned) onto CDs. The digital recording device was then re-used for the next session. The initial copy of the recordings available to IPI is believed to be a third generation tape, that is an analogue copy of an analogue copy from playback of a digital recording. Subsequently, IPI was provided with a digital copy. For the technical examination both copies are as good as any other "original"; they differ only in sound quality.

Even if the original "recording chip" and the technical device were available, this would only help to definitely indicate whether the original recordings were in fact digital or analogue but would not otherwise have any effect on making the evaluation more exact.

In addition, according to IOCE principles (International Organisation of Computer Evidence) the delivery of digital evidence must be carried out by a person who is forensically competent. Furthermore, access, storage or transfer of digital evidence must be fully documented, preserved and available for review, in order to be of any forensic value. Such a procedure could not have been guaranteed by IPI / Freedom House.

In analogue recordings, crude splices are easily detectable, even if post-processing techniques have been used to clean up the content. However, the problem is much more difficult if digital recording techniques have been used, as was the case in these recordings.

Since the recordings were digital in the original and transferred to a computer, the evidence was thus available in a digital format.

The evaluation of a possible doctoring or manipulation of the text and the probability of its detection was described by the research laboratory as "rather slim, if digital processing were to have been employed at a professional level". A library of digital samples could have been created, then deployed to re-order the contents, or to construct fictitious elements to insert into the conversations.

Even if, as the technical experts furthermore suggested, the test would have included subjective auditory phonetics of the content, in addition to all other mechanistic analyses, the degree of uncertainty of the result of the tests would still remain. Besides that, such an assessment of the recorded conversationsby physiological linguists (specialists of the original language) answering the question "can it actually be spoken like that?", would have created additional problems and would still not have been conclusive, as such an analysis is subjective.

Keeping the above arguments in mind we have to inform the Commission that we cannot continue to pursue the requested task. In addition, we are also aware that the above mentioned IOCE principles, related to the security of digital evidence, could not be fulfilled and therefore the technical evaluation of the tapes (i.e. the digital evidence) would most likely not pass evidentiary scrutiny at the Courts. Considering the exceptional importance of this case, both of our organisations firmly believe that the criteria for the study should have been to meet the most stringent tests and standards of technical evidence.

Since the technical experts expressed their conviction that it is nearly impossible to detect manipulation with a nearly absolute level of certainty, the problem must therefore be referred back to the political level and to the level of independent parliamentary investigation.

IPI and Freedom House would like to stress that the above mentioned notion of uncertainty in the technical examination does not imply that the tapes are inauthentic. It suggests only that their authenticity cannot be proved to a high degree of certainty via forensic analysis.

If the existing evidence had consisted only of the approximately 25 minutes long recordings related to the Gongadze case, one could possibly imagine some manipulations or doctoring by a "potential aggressor". However, as the total volume of recordings available to the Investigative Commission covers hundreds of hours of conversations over the period of several months, it seems hard to believe that such a huge amount of documentary evidence may have been doctored or manipulated.

We therefore firmly believe that in accordance with the respect for the rule of law, there is a duty on the part of the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the matter further. The comparison between the violations of law and the criminal acts suggested in the recordings and the actual happenings in the Ukraine may be a proper method in achieving a solution.
Yours sincerely,
Prof. Johann P. Fritz
IPI Director

PS: We kindly ask you to forward the original of this letter as well as a proper translation, to the Investigative Commission.

Copyleft (C) maidan.org.ua - 2000-2018. Архів пітримує Громадська організація Інформаційний центр "Майдан Моніторинг". E-mail: news@maidan.org.ua