MH17 investigators ‘to name four suspects including Russian officers’

MH17 investigators ‘will name four suspects including Russian officers they believe are responsible for the disaster and level charges against them’ later today

  • Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team to give update on MH17 probe at midday 
  • Ukrainian foreign minister says they will name four suspects and lay charges 
  • Comes a year after investigators said missile came from Russian military brigade
  • 298 passengers and crew died when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014

International investigators are poised to name four suspects they believe are responsible for shooting down MH17 and level charges for the first time. 

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team will hold a press conference at midday GMT today to give an update into their findings, after informing the victims’ families.

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal has said the team will name four people including senior Russian army officers.

The development comes a year after the same team concluded that the missile which shot down the plane came from a Russian military brigade based in Kursk.  

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A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014

The reconstructed wreckage of MH17 is presented to the media by Dutch investigators back in 2015

Investigations by open-source intelligence community Bellingcat have identified at least two persons of interest in the MH17 shoot-down – including Russian military officers – but have not been able to establish their exact roles in the disaster.

MH17 was shot out of the sky in 2014 over territory held by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board.

Of those killed, 196 were Dutch and another 38 were Australian. Passengers from Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine were also killed. 

Once the names and charges have been announced, the next step would be to attempt to put the accused on trial. 

Russia is not expected to surrender any potential suspects who may be on its territory and authorities have said individuals could be tried in absentia. 

The Joint Investigation Team, which seeks to try the suspects under Dutch law, has said the missile system came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

MH17 taking off from Amsterdam’s Schipol airport just 24 hours before it was shot down over Ukraine

Russia has insisted that the missile was fired by Kiev’s forces, and that the weapon was sent to Ukraine by the Soviets and was never returned to Russia. 

Dutch officials have said they would looking into the allegations, but noted that previous information given by Moscow has been proved incorrect and that generally speaking Russia has been uncooperative with the investigation.

The Joint Investigation Team was formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate collaboratively.

The Netherlands and Australia, which lost 38 people, hold Russia legally responsible.

Moscow denies all involvement and maintains that it does not support, financially or with equipment, pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops. 

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