research teamThe search for those who shot down flight MH17 has not yielded any new suspects. There are strong indications that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to supply the Buk missile to separatists in eastern Ukraine, but prosecution is not possible. The investigation is closed.
The international investigation team (JIT) announced this to relatives on Thursday. “The findings are not sufficient to prosecute new suspects,” said Digna van Boetzelaer, deputy chief public prosecutor, at a press conference in The Hague.
According to the JIT, much has become known about the decision-making process regarding the provision of the missile installation, which was transported from Russia to the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. However, it is not possible to find out why the missile was fired and who pressed the button.
In May 2018, the JIT already announced that the Buk missile used to down flight MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade in Russia. The weapon system had been transferred from Kursk to an agricultural field in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) fought against the Ukrainian army.
Last year, two Russians and a Ukrainian were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Netherlands. They were responsible in eastern Ukraine for bringing in, transporting and deploying the Russian Buk missile.
The JIT also investigated the crew of the Buk-Telar that shot down the Malaysia Airlines aircraft with 298 occupants on 17 July 2014. The investigators identified three officers of the 53rd brigade of the Russian army. “Their involvement in the downing of MH17 is not confirmed by other sources. That is why the JIT does not reveal their names. The Russian authorities do not answer questions about the crew, because they say there was no Russian Buk-Telar present in eastern Ukraine.”
The investigation also focused on those responsible for supplying the anti-aircraft missile system to the separatists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin played a major role in supplying weapons to eastern Ukraine, which led to the downing of flight MH17 with a Buk missile. “There are strong indications that in Russia the president has decided on the provision of the Buk-Telar to the separatists,” said the JIT.
There is concrete information that the separatists’ request has been submitted to the president, and that a positive decision has been taken. In recorded telephone conversations, Russian government officials say that the decision to provide military support rests with the president.
The decision is even postponed for a week “because there is only one who makes a decision (…), the person who is at a summit in France at the time.” Putin will attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France on June 5 and 6, 2014.
It is unknown whether the request explicitly mentions a Buk system. A short time later, the heavy air defense systems are delivered, including the Buk that later shoots down MH17.
However, Putin cannot be prosecuted, the JIT reports. The evidence gathered is not concrete enough to lead to convictions in court, according to the Public Prosecution Service. “That is why no new lawsuits are being initiated at the moment,” said Van Boetzelaer. Relatives are disappointed.
The three men convicted last November in the 2.5-year MH17 criminal trial – rebel leader Igor Girkin, his right-hand man Sergei Dubinsky and commander Leonid Chartchenko – were the ones who ‘ordered’ the Buk missile in Russia and then guided it in Eastern Ukraine.
The separatists needed a weapon system with which they could defend themselves against the attacks of the Ukrainian air force. At the time, the court in the Netherlands also stated that the perpetrators had mistakenly shot down a civilian aircraft. The intended target was a military aircraft.
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