Source: Gulf News
United Nations/Moscow: A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night.
The report largely confirmed the already widely documented Russian government role not only in the deployment of the missile system, called a Buk, or SA-11, but the subsequent cover-up, which continues to this day.
The report by a team of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine was significant for applying standards of evidence admissible in court, while still building a case directly implicating Russia, and is likely to open a long diplomatic and legal struggle over the tragedy.
With meticulous detail, working with cellphone records, social media, witness accounts and other evidence, Dutch prosecutors traced Russia’s role in deploying the missile system into Ukraine and its attempt to cover its tracks after the disaster.
The inquiry did not name individual culprits and stopped short of saying that Russian soldiers were involved.
A summary of the findings, obtained by The New York Times, was to be released at a news conference in The Hague on Wednesday. The inquiry represents the most detailed investigation to date of the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 flying to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
In Moscow on Wednesday, in anticipation of the release, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, issued a statement to reporters decrying “speculation” about the plane but it did not refer specifically to the report.