In 2014, a missile brought down flight MH17, killing 298 people.
Investigators have now said the missile belonged to a Russian brigade.
A team of international investigators who’ve been carrying out research into the downed plane, revealed today, (May 24), the missile used to shoot down the plane was transported from a Russian military brigade.
Speaking at a press conference, as reported by The Straits Times, Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen said:
[The Joint Investigation Team] has come to the conclusion that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in western Russia.
The 53rd Brigade forms part of the Russian armed forces.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, with 298 people onboard.
The Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was brought down over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, killing everyone onboard.
Russian officials have so far denied all involvement with the incident, and has used its veto to prevent an international tribunal by the United Nations Security Council to find out who was responsible for the tragedy, meaning the eventual trial will be held in the Netherlands under Dutch law.
According to The Guardian, at today’s press conference, Dutch police and prosecutors showed photo and video evidence which, they said, proved they’d identified the specific BUK system responsible for shooting down the plane.
The team said they had ‘legal and convincing evidence which will stand in a courtroom’ how the missile system involved, came from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade.
The Joint Investigation Team said it would give an update on its continuing work, but would not identify individual suspects.
Fred Westerbeke, the chief prosecutor, said today, the investigation was in its ‘last phase’, but added other evidence would be kept secret until a court hearing begins.
We don’t want to tell everything we know because then we are opening our cards to the other side and we do not want to do that.
Westerbeke added Russian authorities have ignored the investigators’ requests for information regarding the 53rd brigade.
In September 2016, Dutch prosecutors said 100 people of interest had been identified in the investigation.
A total of 283 passengers and 15 crew members were on board the flight when it was brought down.
According to Dutch air accident investigators, the plane left Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on July 17 at 10.31 GMT (12.31 local time), and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 22.10 GMT (06.10 local time).
The plane lost contact with air traffic control at 13.20 GMT when it was around 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border, according to the Dutch Safety Board.
Earlier this week, families of the victims of the MH17 tragedy wrote an open letter to the people of Russia, reports Novaya Gazeta, ahead of the country hosting the World Cup next month.
We are painfully aware of the dark irony that the Russian leaders who will profess to welcome the world with open arms, are those who are chiefly to blame for shattering our world.
And that it is these same leaders who have persistently sought to hide the truth, and who have evaded responsibility ever since that dreadful day in July 2014.
Our thought are with those affected by the MH17 crash.