Thursday 25 May 2017

Probe: MH17 jet downed by Russian missile

Members of a joint investigation team present the results of the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, yesterday. Picture: Getty
Members of a joint investigation team present the results of the criminal investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, yesterday. Picture: Getty

John-Thor Dahlburg Nieuwegein, Netherlands

Dutch-led criminal investigators said yesterday they have solid evidence that a Malaysian jet was shot down in 2014 by a Buk missile that was moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia.

Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said communications intercepts showed that pro-Moscow rebels had called for deployment of the mobile surface-to-air weapon and reported its arrival on July 17, 2014, in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

The deadly surface-to-air weapon that blasted Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky at 33,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard, was launched that day from farmland in the rebel-held area of Pervomaiskiy, 5km from the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, the investigation found.

Witnesses there reported an explosion and a whistling sound and a patch of field was set on fire. From that and other evidence collected by the Joint Investigation Team, "it may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation," Mr Paulissen told a news conference in the Dutch town of Nieuwegein.

The conclusions of the investigative unit - which includes police and prosecutors from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Australia and Malaysia - were consistent with previous reporting, which established soon after MH17's destruction that a tracked Buk M-1 launcher with four SA-11 surface-to-air missiles had been sighted the same day in the rebel-controlled town of Snizhne near Pervomaiskiy.

A separate investigation by Dutch safety officials last year concluded that the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight was downed by a Buk missile fired from territory in Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels.

Russia has consistently denied allegations that pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible for downing the passenger plane. On Monday, the Russian military said it has new radio-location data that showed the missile that downed the Boeing 777 did not originate from rebel-controlled territory.

Irish Independent

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