Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Citizen journalists' used online photos and data to identify Russian soldiers allegedly involved in MH17 crash

George and Angela Dyczynski, whose daughter Fatima was a victim of the tragedy, sit on a piece of wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 during their visit to the crash site near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), in Donetsk
George and Angela Dyczynski, whose daughter Fatima was a victim of the tragedy, sit on a piece of wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 during their visit to the crash site near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), in Donetsk
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A group of citizen journalists have reportedly identified the Russian soldiers involved in the crash of flight MH17.

Dutch prosecutors said they will 'seriously study' the claims made, AFP reports.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people onboard.

The British-based group of 'citizen investigative journalists' are called Bellingcat and specialise in analysing data on social media and online.

“We received the report just after Christmas,” Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch prosecutor’s office, told AFP.

“We will seriously study it and determine whether it can be used for the criminal inquiry,” de Bruin said.

A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 18, 2014 file photo. Photo: REUTERS
A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 18, 2014 file photo. Photo: REUTERS

Ukraine claim the missile was fired from pro-Russian separatist-held territory but Moscow has denied the claim and instead have reported Ukrainian military to be the cause of the crash.

Bellingcat previously reported in 2014 that a BUK mobile launcher was spotted on July 17 in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

The launcher came from a military convoy from Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft brigade and, when was filmed again at a later time, at least one Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said his organisation have identified 20 soldiers in this brigade, he told Dutch TV channel NOS.

NOS said the group used sources such as online photos and public army data in their investigation.

Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren

De Bruin said Dutch prosecutors involved in an ongoing investigation into the downing of the plane have “already been in contact” with Bellingcat in the past.

Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash of July 2014 of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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