Investigators confirm missile that shot MH17 was Russian-owned

Investigators confirm missile that shot MH17 was Russian-owned

The investigators' findings showed the missile that downed flight MH17 came from a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade and was sacked from an area of eastern Ukraine that was controlled by pro-Russian separatists, members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

"Not a single anti-aircraft missile of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border", Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Paulissen was speaking at a presentation of interim results of the long-running investigation into the downing of flight MH17.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed.

Russia, which has repeatedly denied responsibility for the MH17 crash, on Thursday reiterated it was not involved in the incident.

Mr Paulissen said a "fingerprint for the missile" had been established through seven markings and features on the sides of the launcher visible in social media images.

JIT said it was convinced the missile was sacked by the 53rd anti aircraft missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

Anybody charged criminally in connection with downing the plane would face justice in Dutch courts, but it is unlikely that Russia would be willing to extradite citizens to face charges, and eastern Ukraine remains in the hands of pro-Russian rebels, inaccessible to Western law enforcement.

The Bellingcat investigation, conducted jointly with the independent Russian website The Insider, said in December it had identified a senior Russian general as a figure of interest in the downing of the airliner.

Investigators confirm missile that shot MH17 was Russian-owned

Prosecutors showed photos and videos of a truck convoy carrying the system as it crossed the border from Russian Federation to Ukraine.

Joint Investigation Team (JIT) member Australian Jennifer Hurst speaks during a press conference.

"All findings from this forensic investigation confirm the earlier conclusion of the JIT that Flight MH 17 was shot down by 9M38 series missile", said Jennifer Hurst of the Australian Federal Police.

"The Defense Ministry of Russia, both in the first hours after the tragedy and later, officially refuted the insinuations of the Ukrainian side about the alleged participation of Russian military personnel in the accident in the sky of Ukraine and provided the Dutch investigative group with the relevant evidence", the statement said.

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was cutting short a visit to India so he could chair a cabinet meeting to discuss the findings. Two years ago, prosecutors said there were about 100 people under suspicion of direct or indirect involvement.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok called the latest findings "an important piece of the puzzle", adding that he is "very impressed by the evidence that has been collected". On Thursday, Westerbeke said that number had come down to several dozen, but he declined to name them.

Investigators appealed to the public to come forward and help identify members of the crew who operated the missile and determine how high up the chain of command the order originated.

They also displayed part of the BUK missile system used in the attack, urging anyone who recognised handwriting on its exhaust system and casing to contact them.

Any suspects tied to the incident will be tried in the Netherlands.

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