WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down on July 17, 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine.
- All 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board were killed.
- Investigators said on Thursday they had identified the missile used to shoot down MH17 as coming from a Russian military unit.
Wilbert Paulissen, head of the crime squad of the Netherlands’ national police, confirmed that the missile used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had been fired from Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade carrier.
“All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces,” Paulissen said in a televised news conference.
The Russian Defense Ministry has since denied involvement in the incident. Moscow has not yet issued a comment on the investigative development.
Prosecutors revealed they had cut their list of possible suspects from more than a hundred to just several dozen during an interim update on their investigation.
“We have a lot of proof and a lot of evidence, but we are not finished. There is still a lot of work to do,” said chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.
He added that prosecutors were not yet ready to reveal the identity of the individual suspects publicly or to issue indictments. Whether crew members of the 53rd Brigade were involved in the shooting of MH17 remains under investigation, according to Westerbeke.
Westerbeke called on witnesses to help in the identification of the crew members that was operating the missile system. He also asked for tip-offs in determining what their orders were and in identifying the officials in charge of the brigade, Reuters wrote.
A Joint Investigation Team, coming from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, is collecting enough evidence for a criminal prosecution in the downing of the Boeing 777.
In October 2015, the Dutch Safety Board reported that MH17 was shot by a Russian-made Buk missile.
Dutch prosecutors said that 100 “persons of interest” had been identified during the investigation in September 2016. Australian and Malaysian officials had hoped that suspects’ names would be released in 2017.
Eventual suspects are likely to be tried in absentia in the Netherlands after Russia used its veto to block a U.N. Security Council resolution seeking to create an international tribunal to oversee criminal complaints stemming from the incident, according to Reuters.