NIEUWEGEIN, NETHERLANDS (Reuters) – Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and located in a village held by pro-Russian rebels, international prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The findings counter Moscow’s suggestion that the passenger plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, was brought down by Ukraine’s military rather than the separatists. All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed.
The conclusions were based on thousands of wiretaps, photographs, witness statements and forensic tests during more than two years of inquiries into an incident which led to a sharp rise in tensions between Russia and the West.
Among the key findings were: the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk-9M38 missile; the missile was fired from the rebel-held village of Pervomaysk in eastern Ukraine; and the launcher was transported into Ukraine from Russia.
“This Buk trailer came from the territory of the Russian Federation, and after the launch it was returned again to the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Wilbert Paulissen, chief investigator with the Dutch national police.
The Ukrainian government said the findings pointed to Russia’s “direct involvement”. Russia – which has always denied Moscow or pro-Russian rebels were responsible – rejected the prosecutors’ conclusions, saying they were not supported by technical evidence and the inquiry was biased.