The international investigation team says it cannot determine who operated the missile that shot down the Malaysian Boeing
Investigators behind the criminal probe into the July 2014 downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine said on Wednesday they had not been able to find sufficient evidence that could lead to new prosecutions and are therefore suspending the investigation. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) stressed, however, that the case will be resumed if new information comes to light.
"The investigation has now reached its limit. All leads have been exhausted," said Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer as the JIT issued its latest report on the tragic incident.
According to the JIT, the Malaysian Boeing was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile. In their report, the team claims there are "strong indications" that the air defense system was provided to anti-Kiev rebels in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on the personal orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They admit, however, that there is not enough information to meet the "high bar of complete and conclusive evidence," which is why the investigation cannot make any definitive accusations. The team also stated that it has been unable to confirm the identities of the Russian officers believed to have been operating the BUK system allegedly responsible for the tragic incident.
The Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down as it flew over the east of Ukraine in July 2014. All 298 people on board were killed. The incident took place at a time when Ukrainian government forces were engaged in fierce battles against the rebels who opposed the outcome of an armed coup in Kiev.
Back in November, the JIT's investigation, which was launched in 2019, was used by a Dutch court to hand out life sentences to two Russian and one Ukrainian nationals who held high-ranking positions within the DPR's forces at the time of the incident. The court accused them of being responsible for downing the civilian airliner. All three denied the allegations and were tried in absentia. Moscow called the ruling a "politically motivated verdict" that was handed out under "unprecedented pressure" and refused to extradite its citizens.
Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility for the downing of MH17 and has insisted that Ukraine possessed the same type of weapons system used to shoot down the airliner. Moscow has also blasted the JIT probe for neglecting to include evidence provided by Russia and failing to take into account Ukraine's failure to provide raw radar data from the day of the tragedy. Kiev insists this information is not available.