MH17 investigation; new call for witnesses on who commanded deployment of missile

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) with its international partners from the MH17 Joint Investigation Team (JIT) have launched a fresh appeal urging witnesses to come forward to assist with the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight over the Ukraine on 17 July 2014.

Specifically, the JIT wants information about those persons who commanded the deployment of the BUK surface-to-air missile that shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 men, women and children on board.

Recent analysis of information obtained by the JIT reveals Russian influence goes beyond military support of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine. Communications between DPR fighters and Russian officials was used on a daily basis to discuss administrative, financial and military matters. The JIT wants to identify the people involved in these communications.

The JIT criminal investigation has been ongoing since 2014 and on 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that MH17 was shot down by a missile after being launched by a BUK TELAR system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field in Eastern Ukraine. After firing a single missile, it returned to the Russian Federation. On the 24th of May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

This latest call for witnesses is aimed at people with direct knowledge about the downing of flight MH17 and specifically, information regarding the people who make up the separatist leadership in Donetsk and their links to the decision-making in the Russian Federation on its military support to Eastern Ukraine.

Four suspects were charged in June with:

  • causing the crash of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all persons on board, punishable pursuant to Article 168 of the Dutch Criminal Code;
  • the murder of the 298 persons on board of flight MH17, punishable pursuant to Article 289 of the Dutch Criminal Code.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier said that whilst the last five years has challenged the organisation and the AFP members involved in the investigation, the focus has not diverted from bringing those responsible to account wherever possible.

“We cannot lessen the pain of the loss of those family and friends in this terrible tragedy, so our resolve remains to continue work to ensuring a measure of justice can be felt by all of those affected, especially those families and friends suffering their enormous loss,” he said.

“We are committed to seeking justice and I urge anyone with information on this matter to come forward. Information is vital in this investigation.”

AFP members continue to provide investigative, intelligence and forensic expertise to assist Dutch police and prosecutors to successfully identify and prosecute all of those responsible.

Please click here for video of Dutch and AFP investigators commenting on the appeal for witnesses.

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