25 May 2018Hot off the Press
The multinational Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has identified the missile involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as being of Russian origin.
On its path from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, Flight MH17 was struck by a missile on 17 July 2014 while over eastern Ukraine, just 50 kilometres from the Ukraine-Russia border. All 298 people aboard flight MH17 perished.
The JIT claims that Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade based in Kursk was involved. At a briefing in the Netherlands, the JIT showed video and still images of the path allegedly taken by the truck that transported the missile across the border.
Wilbert Paulissen, head of the National Crime Squad in the Netherlands, implored witnesses to come forward urgently.
“We are looking for people who were directly involved,” Mr Paulissen said. “We have four questions: who was part of the team, what instructions were they given and by whom, who was responsible for the operational deployment, and, finally, who can provide us with most information about the procedures in this brigade?”
Russia has denied any involvement, and says that no missile complex has ever crossed the border into Ukraine.
But the Dutch Safety Board determined in October 2015 that a Buk missile was fired at the plane. A year after that, the JIT concluded that the missile had been brought from Russia to Ukraine, fired from a pro-Russian rebel-controlled area, and then moved back across the border.
Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said that the JIT is “not desperate” in its call for witnesses to come forward, and is “progressing in a good way”.
Australian Federal Police Commander Jennifer Hurst reiterated that the JIT is “absolutely committed to this investigation”.
“We have 298 precious reasons why we are sticking with this investigation,” Ms Hurst said.