An international criminal investigation into the shooting down of flight MH17 is likely to conclude that the plane was downed by a Buk missile fired from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, diplomats say.
The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been gathering evidence for a possible criminal trial and is due to present its findings on Wednesday. Dutch police and prosecutors have been working with judicial colleagues from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.
After arriving in Snizhne on the afternoon of 17 July, the Buk was offloaded and driven to a field south of town, investigators believe. It shot down MH17 in error, believing it to be a Ukrainian army transport plane. The Buk was smuggled back across the Russian border early the next day. Buk graphic
“There is a wide presumption in diplomatic circles that this report will point to the involvement of pro-Russian rebels or Russia,” Robert van de Roer, a Dutch diplomatic expert and commentator said. “It will cause high waves.”
According to Van de Roer, investigators have not been able to identify “the guy who pushed the button” on the Buk missile. They do know the names of about 20 Russian servicemen from the 53rd brigade in Kursk who could form a “broad circle of suspects,” he said.
Van de Roer said he was pessimistic that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, would cooperate with the tribunal or hand over possible suspects to the Hague for trial. He also described the Dutch government’s approach as “bureaucratic and legalistic”.
“My fear is that this will end up as a kind of Lockerbie,” he said, adding that in the case of the 1988 Pan Am bombing it was never known if Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – convicted in 2001 – was the only perpetrator.