Friday 10 July 2020

MH17 missile evidence likely ‘within months’ say investigators

Photo: NBAAI via Dutch Safety Board

Photo: NBAAI via Dutch Safety Board

Dutch criminal prosecutors will have evidence ‘within months’ on the type of missile that shot down Malaysian Airways flight MH17 and where it was fired from, Nos reports on Friday.

The broadcaster bases its claims on a letter sent to relatives of the victims by the public prosecution department, giving an update on the investigation.

In the letter, Fred Westerbeke writes that efforts to determine the precise location of the launch site are complicated by a lack of radar information from the Ukrainian authorities, and by cloud cover which prevented accurate satellite imaging of the area.

Investigators have received some radar information from American intelligence agencies, and are in talks with Russian authorities about accessing Russian radar information, he said.

Using the available American information, as well as evidence gathered from phone tapping, witness statements and calculations from the National Air and Space Travel Laboratory, investigators are confident they can establish a precise launch location in the second half of this year, Westerbeke said.

Perpetrators

‘Once the launch site has been established…concrete and irrefutable evidence is needed to establish who the perpetrators are and what were their roles,’ Westerbeke said.

‘Internet and phone data, and witness statements are important to this investigation,’ he said. Currently, investigators are going through five billion web pages, and half a million photo, video, and audio files.

Westerbeke, however, reminded the MH17 relatives that in cases like this prosecution can take a long time. He cited the example of the Lockerbie bombing, in which it took investigators three years to issue any indictments.

Missile

All of MH17’s 298 passengers, including 196 Dutch, were killed when the flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The plane was shot down with a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile, concluded the Dutch Safety Board in their preliminary investigation. The forward section of the aircraft was penetrated by hundreds of high-energy projectiles, causing the plane to break apart in mid-air.

The Dutch safety board concluded that the missile was fired from somewhere within a 320-square kilometer area in the eastern part of Ukraine. Narrowing the area down further was beyond the safety board’s mandate.

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