Rus­sia ‘was linked’ to Ukrainian rebels


Manchester Evening News - - WORLD -

AN in­ter­na­tional team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors piec­ing to­gether a crim­i­nal case over the shoot­ing down of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 over Ukraine say ev­i­dence sug­gests links be­tween Rus­sia and sep­a­ratists in the re­gion were closer than pre­vi­ously be­lieved.

The Joint In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team (JIT) is­sued a fresh ap­peal for wit­nesses as it re­vealed de­tails of se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Rus­sian of­fi­cials and rebels in the Donetsk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic (DPR) rebel group in eastern Ukraine.

In June, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors an­nounced that they had charged four peo­ple, in­clud­ing three Rus­sians, with mur­der over their al­leged roles in the down­ing of Flight MH17 in July 2014.

All 298 pas­sen­gers and crew on board the flight be­tween Am­s­ter­dam and Kuala Lumpur were killed.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say their probe has re­vealed that “Rus­sian in­flu­ence on the DPR went be­yond mil­i­tary sup­port”.

“The JIT has in­for­ma­tion that in­di­cates that the in­flu­ence of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion ex­tended to ad­min­is­tra­tive, fi­nan­cial and mil­i­tary mat­ters in the DPR,” the team said in a state­ment, adding that con­tacts be­tween Rus­sia and the rebels in­ten­si­fied in the first half of July 2014.

“There was al­most daily tele­phone con­tact be­tween the lead­er­ship of the DPR and their con­tacts in the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion.”

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