MH17 missile owned by Russian brigade, investigators say

26 May, 2018, 14:03 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Nozzle of BUK missile found at MH17 crash site

A missile system from the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade of the Russian Armed Forces was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, prosecutors investigating the disaster said on Thursday.

The missile used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, belonged to a Russia-based military unit, an global team of investigators said Thursday after painstakingly studying video and photos of a military convoy.

"The United States has complete confidence in the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as presented today by the Dutch Public Prosecutor", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement to Fox News.

Announcing the findings on Thursday in the Netherlands, Wilbert Paulissen, a criminal investigator with the country's national police, said investigators had not determined whether soldiers from the Russian unit based in Kursk had also operated the system in Ukraine.

"It is nothing but an allegation aimed at tarnishing our country's image on the global stage", a ministry statement carried by TASS news agency said.

All 298 passengers and crew, a lot of them Dutch, were killed in the disaster.

"It is clear that these gratuitous accusations are an attempt to discredit our nation in the eyes of the global community", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

In a written statement, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Associated Press: "That a sophisticated weapon belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave global concern. We are discussing these findings with our partners and considering our options".

Ultimately, any suspects identified and charged will be prosecuted in Dutch courts - if they can be arrested and brought to trial. "How can they identify the fingerprints of an active serviceman?" This action, he said, "should be of grave worldwide concern". At the time, Russian Federation denied any involvement in the crash that killed all those aboard.

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Members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) hold a press conference on the ongoing investigation.

'This is an important development and so I have chose to return to the Netherlands, because I want to chair the cabinet meeting at which this will be discussed, ' Rutte said in a reaction.

WATCH - The Downing Of MH17: What Happened?

The reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 which was shot down by a missile over Ukraine in July 2014, in Gilze Rijen, Netherlands.

The brigade has been in the frame for the attack since 2015 when online investigative organisation Bellingcat examined videos of the Russian military convoy in Ukraine and thousands of social media profiles of Russian servicemen.

A large convoy of some 50 vehicles including six BUK-TELAR missile systems left the Kursk base on June 23, 2014, the investigators said.

The global team said it was not ready to name suspects for the attack but has previously released wiretaps of conversations between two men who are heard apparently discussing the return of the missile launcher to Russian Federation.

Rebels in eastern Ukraine on Thursday also denied possessing Russian weapons systems, Interfax reported, citing Eduard Basurin, a rebel official.

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