MH17 probe finds missile
INVESTIGATORS probing the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine last year have confirmed finding several fragments from a Buk surface-to-air missile system at the crash site.
The discovery of the Russian-made armament brings the investigation a step closer to laying blame for the shooting down of the passenger aircraft a year ago which resulted in the deaths of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
In a joint statement issued by international and Dutch investigators, the groups confirmed the Buk missile parts were secured during a recent recovery mission to the crash site in Eastern Ukraine.
But they were cautious about the find and its connection to the crash.
“The parts are of particular interest to the criminal investi- gation as they can possibly provide more information about who was involved in the crash of MH17,” a spokesman for the joint probe said.
“For that reason the Joint Investigation Team (will) further investigate the origin of these parts. The JIT will internationally enlist the help of experts, among others forensic specialists and weapon experts.”
But the spokesman added: “At present the conclusion cannot be drawn that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17.”
It had been widely suspected a Buk ground-to-air missile had been used to bring down the Boeing commercial airliner last July but it may never be known who fired it.
Military experts will analyse whether the Buk is a new model or an older version.
Older model Buk missiles had been in use by the Ukraine military which lost their hardware when their bases in eastern Ukraine were overrun by Russian-backed separatist rebels while the new models are employed in the Russian military.
Russia still denies its troops are in Ukraine, other than “a few” soldiers on leave and private time, despite overwhelming evidence the country has deployed several tanks and other armaments and hundreds of troops to join the separatist militia.
The investigators, including a team from the Australian Federal Police, have been meeting this week in The Hague.
Later this week they will gather at the Gilze-Rijen air base in southern Netherlands where the remains of MH17 have been put back together.
A report from both teams is expected to be publicly released by the end of this year.