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, 5 kilometers (3 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 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.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said crash investigators allowed Ukraine to fabricate evidence, turning the case to its advantage, while denying Moscow any comprehensive role in the inquiry, RT reported.
“Russia suggested working together from the start and relying on the facts only,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Wednesday, RT reported.
“Instead of [working together], international investigators suspended Moscow from comprehensive participation in the investigative process, allowing our efforts only a minor role. It sounds like a bad joke, but at the same time they made Ukraine a full member of the JIT [Joint Investigation Team], giving it the opportunity to forge evidence and turn the case to its advantage,” Zakharova added.
Story by the Associated Press with information from RT.