Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Malaysian jet downed by missile launcher from Russia - Probe

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2016 | 9:00 AM
People walk among the debris, at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. The disaster claimed 298 lives.

NIEUWEGEIN (AP):

Dutch-led criminal investigators said Wednesday 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 Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky that same day at 33,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard, was launched from farmland in the rebel-held area of Pervomaiskiy, five kilometres (three miles) 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", Paulissen told a news conference on Wednesday 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 by the Associated Press, 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.

Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said the joint investigation findings differ in that they are designed to be solid enough to be used as evidence in a criminal trial. Where and when a trial might take place is still to be determined, Aling said.