International investigative organisation the Joint Investigation Team is convinced that on 17 July 2014 flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile system that was transported from Russian territory. The system that launched its missile from the location on an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters.
“Based on the evidence we identified the location of the launch of the missile and the type of it.”, Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said.
Alternative scenarios to the BUK missile ruled out
The International experts ruled out alternative scenarios including an accident and evidence for a terrorist attack from inside the aircraft. The Defence Ministry of Russian Federation denied its previous claim that the military plane was in the region in close proximity of the Malaysian plane.
The investigators analysed evidence including 150,000 elements of the wreckage, documents from autopsies of the victims and the satellite photos.
During the autopsies of bodies of the cockpit crew, the forensic investigators found several fragments that belonged to the warhead of the Russian BUK missile with traces of cockpit glass on the surface. The glass was the same unique type of glass that is used for the a Boeing 777.
The forensic investigators found in the frame of one of the cockpit windows a metal piece, which was identified as a part of a the Russian BUK missile. This piece was located in a twisted position in the frame, making it clear that it was shot into the window frame with great force.
This is a link between the parts found and the downing of flight MH17.
The JIT Investigators said also that the United States provided the satellite imagery but it is classified material. Russian Federation had not made available the data from the Russian radars in the area. It also did not answer the most important questions of the investigators.
The international investigators made available video presentations such as this one that discuss the road of the Russian BUK missile from the border with the Russian Federation to the location of the launch.
The Investigators listened and analysed hundreds of minutes of the telephone talks of the Ukrainian rebels regarding the move of the Russian BUK missile launcher to Ukraine.
The evidence presented today by the international Investigation Team confirmed conclusions of the report published two years ago by the citizen investigative journalists organisation Belingcat.
Bellingcat Director Eliot Higgins emphasised the importance of the photo of the launch smoke from the launch of the BUK missile. “The photo of the launch smoke also adds to the evidence of the location of the launch”, Higgins said.
Russians misidentified MH17
The international experts suggest that the targeting of the Boeing with the Russian BUK missile was Russian military’s mistake.
Retired high-ranking officer of Ukrainian army and military expert Igor Romanienko said that the BUK missile launcher operator could have old information about the transport Ukrainian plane which never appeared but was real target.
“Obviously it was mistake. No-one wanted to launch the missile at the Boeing. Next day it was obvious who is guilty and why the missile was launched.”, the Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer said.
“It’s possible they [the BUK missile launcher operators-ed] misidentified MH17 for a transport aircraft, which seems to be the most likely scenario, but I couldn’t expand on procedures.”, Higgins said.
The JIT investigators said that at this stage it is unknown whether Ukrainian rebels by themselves or in cooperation with the Russian military launched the missile.
In opinion of the Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins “it appears the BUK arrived on July 17th, so definitely it was not enough time to train” the Ukrainian rebels.
” It seems extremely likely it was Russian military.”, Higgins said.
“West must hold Russia responsible”
The leader of Greens in the European Parliament Rebecca Harms is convinced that the evidence suffice to name perpetrators.
“The responsibility of the Russian Federation in this tragedy, which caused the death of 289 passengers and crew, can no longer be hidden. The release of the details of the downing of MH17 should be yet another wake up call for the European Union’s member states to keep the sanctions against Russia in place and demand an end to the war in eastern Ukraine”, Harms said in the statement.
“While nothing can take away the grief of those who lost loved ones on that tragic day, this announcement is another step toward bringing to justice those responsible for this outrageous attack” the Assistant Secretary and the State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said.
“The United States will continue to work with the Joint Investigation Team in its investigation. We call on other states that are in a position to assist to cooperate fully so those responsible are held accountable”, he added.
The Russian Federation was not officially named by the Joint Investigative Team as responsible for perpetrating of this crime but revealed that about 100 Russian servicemen are suspects in the case, including soldiers from Moscow’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade.
The Flight MH17 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.