FLIGHT MH17 was shot down over Ukraine – killing hundreds as the plane disintegrated and fell from the sky.
All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart in mid-air flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, with the loss of 298 lives.
The dead included ten Britons, 193 Dutch, 38 Australians and 43 Malaysians. Eighty victims were children.
The Boeing 777-200ER left Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 12.31pm local time and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10am Malaysian time.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane two hours and 49 minutes after takeoff when it was about 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team said last year the Buk 9M38 surface-to-air missile in question arrived from Russia and was fired from territory held by Russia-backed separatists.
Wilbert Paulissen, a Dutch official from the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), on Thursday told reporters: “All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces.”
At a news conference in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the investigators also showed social media pictures which they said traced the route the missile convoy had taken to reach eastern Ukraine.
They also said they had identified 100 people who were “linked to the crash or the transport of the Buk” but did not name individual suspects.
Investigators said they were working toward a court case in the Netherlands against those who fired the Buk Telar missile system as well as higher-ups in their chain of command. They are reportedly focusing on 100 or so suspects.
The allegations come after Yulia Skripal said she was lucky to have survived an “attempted assassination” with a nerve agent in Salisbury, raising pressure on Russia three weeks before the start of the World Cup here.
The investigators simulated various trajectories of the warhead. They showed it had exploded metres above the aeroplane’s nose, showering the aircraft with fragments.
On Thursday Russia restated its position that none of its forces had been involved. “Not a single anti-aircraft missile system from the Russian Federation has ever crossed the Russia-Ukraine border,” the defence ministry in Moscow said.
Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister, Stef Blok said in a statement on Friday “The Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable,” Blok said.
“Australia and the Netherlands have informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under international law for its role in the downing of MH17,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.
Bishop and Blok said their governments asked Russia on Friday to enter talks about its role in the disaster in order to find a solution “that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage” caused by the downing. The case could next be presented to an international court or organization for judgement, the Dutch and Australian governments said.
The son of an Australian couple killed in the disaster said earlier Friday the international community should pressure Russia to take responsibility after investigators found its military missile brought down the flight. “It’s good to see some strong evidence that Russia was involved,” Paul Guard, who lost his parents Jill and Roger in the disaster, told Australian broadcaster ABC. “Clearly, Russia has a lot of questions to answer as to what its missile launcher was doing there and why it was involved in this war in the first place.”
He said governments have a problem in acknowledging their involvement “in these sorts of things.” “The US, I think, took over 10 years to acknowledge the shooting down of an Iranian jet. I’m not expecting anything anytime soon.”
Wilbert Paulissen of the Dutch National Police said: “All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces.”
A missile launcher vehicle was spotted heading back over the border into Russia soon after the crash.
Russian officials began pushing back against the Dutch allegation almost immediately. Moscow has since the days after the plane went down put out a raft of unlikely theories to shift the blame to Ukraine and vetoed a proposed United Nations tribunal.