Dutch-led criminal investigators said on Wednesday they have solid evidence that a Malaysian jet was shot down in 2014 by a Buk missile that was moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia.
Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said communications intercepts showed that pro-Moscow rebels had called for deployment of the mobile surface-to-air weapon and reported its arrival on July 17, 2014, in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.
The deadly surface-to-air weapon that blasted Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky that same day at 33,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard, was launched from farmland in the rebel-held area of Pervomaiskiy, 5 km from the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, the investigation found.
Witnesses there reported an explosion and a whistling sound and a patch of field was set on fire.
From that and other evidence collected by the Joint Investigation Team, “it may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation,” Paulissen told a news conference Wednesday in the Dutch town of Nieuwegein.
The conclusions of the investigative unit — which includes police and prosecutors from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Australia and Malaysia — were consistent with previous reporting by The Associated Press, which established soon after MH17’s destruction that a tracked Buk M-1 launcher with four SA-11 surface-to-air missiles had been sighted the same day in the rebel-controlled town of Snizhne near Pervomaiskiy.
A separate investigation by Dutch safety officials last year concluded that the Amsterdamto-Kuala Lumpur flight was downed by a Buk missile fired from territory in Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels.
Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said the joint investigation findings differ in that they are designed to be solid enough to be used as evidence in a criminal trial.
Where and when a trial might take place is still to be determined, Aling said.