Dutch investigators expected to name suspects in downing of MH17

Clay Curtis
June 19, 2019

An Interfax Ukraine report on Tuesday quoted Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Olena Zerkal in an interview as saying prosecutors would name the four "top" suspects.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was travelling over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists in July 2014 when it was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile. 196 of those killed were Dutch nationals.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russian Federation legally responsible.

The Joint Investigation Team, which seeks to try the suspects under Dutch law, has said the missile system came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

The JIT is an alliance of investigators from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. He said that, while the investigation showed the missile was made by Russian Federation, it could be have been fired by Ukrainian troops.

Four men have been charged with murder over the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 passengers and crew.

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Dutch broadcaster RTL, quoting anonymous sources, said the suspects could be tried in absentia as Russian Federation does not extradite its nationals for prosecution. It said its reporting was "totally independent and separate from the JIT's investigation".

They said their next step would be to identify individual culprits and to attempt to put them on trial.

All of these were in eastern Ukraine on the night of the attack, said the spokesman for the investigators, who are from The Netherlands, where most of the victims of the incident were from.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement, despite overwhelming witness testimony, photographic and other evidence to the contrary.

Russian Federation insisted past year that the missile was sacked by Kiev's forces, adding that it was sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era and had not been returned to Russian Federation.

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