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Investigators from the Office of the National Prosecutor (OM) of the Netherlands have completed the first phase of their work in definitely determining the cause of the mid-aid explosion and crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). Preliminary information leaked to the Dutch media has concluded that a Russian unit is responsible for the shootdown.
Most of the collected debris from the aircraft, a Boeing 777 that crashed on 17 July 2014 while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with the loss of all 298 on board, is now spread out in hangers at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Gilze-Rijen airbase where investigators have been probing the wreckage for evidence.
The OM is part of a Joint International Team (JIT) conducting a criminal investigation charged with initially identifying what brought the aircraft down and from where. A second phase of the investigation is to then identify those responsible and bring them before a court with the proper jurisdiction.
According to all of the evidence the JIT has reviewed, which has included more than one million documents, photos and videos, the conclusions to date are that the MH17 was downed by a Buk-M1-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM) launched from a Russian-owned battery that was most likely manned by a Russian crew. Photos and video evidence, as well as interviews with witnesses, prove that the battery was brought across the border from Russia into Ukraine shortly before the shootdown.
In order to fulfill the second half of its mission the investigation team will now have to collect facts that would provide the basis for a conviction in court. Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told local news outlets: “The investigation is fully ongoing, with more than a hundred internationals involved. We are looking at forensic evidence, phone tap analyses from the time around the crash, witness accounts, and many different scenarios.”
The head of the prosecuting team then explained that central questions that the investigation is trying to answer are: first, who controlled the radar that provided the Buk battery with targeting information; second, who commanded the crew; and, lastly, who gave the order to fire? Radio and mobile telephone intercepts that have been provided by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) are being used in this effort.
Read more: janes.com