Investigators say that Flight MH17 was brought down by Russian military-sourced missile
The missile launcher used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines flight over Eastern Ukraine back in 2014 belonged to the Russian armed forces, an international team of investigators has confirmed.
Detailed analysis of video images led the Dutch-based team to establish that the missile came from Russia's 53rd brigade located in the city of Kursk.
"All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces," Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Dutch National Police’s crime squad said while presenting the interim results of the long-standing investigation.
Investigators also clarified that they have narrowed the number of people of interest from 100 to "several dozen", and called on the public to come forward with any details about the crew who operated the missile system.
The chief prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, said that the investigation was in its last phase, but could not elaborate on when he would be ready to file indictments.
Wilbert Paulissen also said that there was additional evidence that would be kept secret until a court hearing began. "We don’t want to tell everything we know because then we are opening our cards to the other side and we do not want to do that," he explained.
Investigators contacted Russian authorities for more information regarding the 53rd brigade, but have reportedly been ignored.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on the 17th July, 2014. All 298 people onboard the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart mid-air.
It was hit by a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory in Ukraine. Russia has consistently denied involvement in the downing of Flight MH17, and has also refuted claims that it was militarily active in Eastern Ukraine, despite evidence to the contrary.
Back in 2014, Russian troops and hardware were sent over to back pro-Russian separatists rebelling against Ukrainian government troops. And in the weeks leading up to flight MH17 being shot down, separatists had shot down several Ukrainian military planes which were flying over Eastern Ukraine.
Earlier this week, families of the victims of Flight MH17 penned an open letter to the Russian public ahead of the World Cup, which begins in Russia next month.
"We are painfully aware of the dark irony that the Russian leaders who will profess to welcome the world with open arms are those who are chiefly to blame for shattering our world,” the note read. "And that it is these same leaders who have persistently sought to hide the truth, and who have evaded responsibility ever since that dreadful day in July 2014."
In other news, pilot of doomed Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 Zaharie Amad Shah 'deliberately evaded radar' say experts.