Dutch investigators trying to find out who shot down Malaysian Airways flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July say they ‘expect to go a long way’ towards identifying the perpetrators.
Chief public prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told reporters on Friday that if suspects are identified, they can be prosecuted in the Netherlands.
Two-thirds of the 278 people killed when the Boeing 777 was brought down were Dutch and the Netherlands has the lead role in finding out what happened and who is responsible.
Earlier this week an initial report by the Dutch safety board said the plane appeared to have fallen apart after being hit by ‘high energy projectiles’.
Westerbeke said his department cannot yet be absolutely certain the aircraft was attacked but said that was likely. Forensic experts have found 25 pieces of metal between the wreckage and in some of the bodies, which could come from a missile, he said.
‘If we can establish this iron comes from such a missile, that is important of course,’ Westerbeke told news agency Reuters. ‘At this moment, we don’t know that, but that’s what we are investigating.’
An appeal for photographic material has resulted in 20,000 photographs and 750 videos being uploaded to a special website. These are now being investigated to confirm their authenticity, he said. Some 350 million web pages are being trawled for evidence.
The investigation is the biggest criminal probe ever under taken in the Netherlands.
In Ukraine itself, a team of 28 investigators is poised to resume work at the crash site once they have been given the all-clear by the security services.