MH17 Was Shot Down by Russian-Origin Missile: Investigators


Prosecutors could also indicate what charges they are considering bringing – for instance criminal negligence. (Photo: Reuters)
Prosecutors could also indicate what charges they are considering bringing – for instance criminal negligence. (Photo: Reuters)

MH17 Was Shot Down by Russian-Origin Missile: Investigators

International prosecutors investigating the downing of a Malaysian airliner MH17 two years ago have concluded that it was shot down by a Russian-made missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, victims' family members said on Wednesday.

Families were informed of the prosecutors' findings shortly before a news conference was due to start in the central Dutch city of Nieuwegein on the outcome of the investigation.

A surface-to-air missile hit Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, most of them Dutch citizens.

Families were also told that the Buk missile system that was used to shoot down the plane had been transported from Russia into Ukraine, and was returned to Russia immediately afterward.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry also questioned Russia’s involvement in the crash in his address on Wednesday.

The plane crashed near Hrabove, Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine.

The prosecutors cannot file charges but victims' relatives have been seeking details of who shot the plane down in the hope that it might lead eventually to prosecutions over an incident, which led to a sharp rise in East-West tensions.

The Buk missile system used to shoot down the plane fired one missile from the village of Pervomaysk and was later returned to Russia, said the prosecutors, from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

They told at a news conference in the central Dutch city of Nieuwegein that the investigative team had identified 100 people, who were described as being of interest to them but had not yet been formally identified individual suspects.

Prosecutors have sought legal assistance from Moscow since October 2014, and visited in person for a week in July.

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The Russian Refusal

Russia on Wednesday flatly dismissed a report from international prosecutors which concluded that Malaysian airliner MH17 had been downed by a Russian-made missile launched from a Ukrainian village held by pro-Russian rebels in 2014.

In a strongly-worded statement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Dutch-led investigation’s findings were biased and politically-motivated.

“To arbitrarily designate a guilty party and dream up the desired results has become the norm for our Western colleagues,” said Zakharova.

“The investigation to this day continues to ignore incontestable evidence from the Russian side despite the fact that Russia is practically the only one sending reliable information to them.”

Zakharova said she hoped new radar data presented by the Russian military would prompt the prosecutors to revise their findings.

Relatives Want Answers

Victims' families were informed of the findings shortly before the prosecutors' news conference.

Speaking before the news conference, Silene Fredriksz, whose 23-year-old son Bryce was on the airplane with his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers, said the victims' families wanted justice.

Another man, whose cousin was killed in the downing of the Malaysian airliner, said on Tuesday that international prosecutors had determined the missile was launched from territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Robby Oehlers, whose niece Daisy was killed in the crash, said investigators had identified 100 suspects in their investigation.

"As a family we are impatient. We want to know what happened, how it happened and why. We want those responsible to face justice," she said.

The downing played a significant part in a decision by the European Union and United States to impose sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

(With input from Reuters)

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