25 May, 2018
The missile used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, belonged to a Russia-based military unit, an worldwide team of investigators said Thursday after painstakingly studying video and photos of a military convoy.
Earlier investigations, by both the Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch Safety Board, concluded that the aircraft was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile system, launched from within territory held by Russian-backed separatist groups.
"Australia and the Netherlands have now informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under global law for its role in the bringing down of MH17", said Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, on Friday.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Friday called for global support for the Dutch-Australian legal initiative.
The Dutch government said in a statement that, together with Australia, it was holding Moscow "formally accountable" for the tragedy, and may now move towards submitting the complex dossier to an worldwide judge or organisation.
The Dutch government said state liability was invoked in cases where nations violate worldwide law, but warned it was a "complex legal process".
Of the 298 people of more than 30 nationalities killed, 196 were Dutch, 42 Malaysian and 27 Australian.
The EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have also urged Russian Federation to accept responsibility for the incident. In the past, the Russian government has denied claims that Russian military forces and equipment were used across the Ukraine border.
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The ministry accused Ukraine of being behind the disaster in which 298 people died, saying it had presented evidence that "showed the involvement of Ukrainian units using (Soviet-designed) BUK missiles".
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has responded to the accusations made by the investigation team saying, "To acknowledge what is written there [in the Dutch report] we need to fully participate in the investigation".
"The Netherlands and Australia today asked Russian Federation..."
Wilbert Paulissen of the Dutch National Police said Thursday, May 24, 2018 that the missile was from the Russian military's 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade based in the Russian city of Kursk. The Russian Defense Ministry also alleged that the missile belonged to Ukrainian forces.
The worldwide investigation into the downing of MH17 has since established that that and other Russian versions of events are false.
"This is the legal avenue that the Netherlands and Australia have now chosen to pursue", the statement added. But they are appealing for further information, especially about the BUK system's crew, and who ordered the plane to be shot down.
"Essentially for Russian Federation this is a political culture where admitting any kind of guilt or contrition is essentially seen as a sign of weakness and for Vladimir Putin, who has invested so much political capital in his image around the world as a strong man leader, it's basically not in his interests to back down or accept any of these findings now", Challands said.
Later, Bellingcat, a civilian investigative journalism network, said during a press conference in The Hague, the Netherlands on May 25 that it had identified a key suspect in the MH17 case sought by JIT investigators.
Dutch officials are now considering criminal proceedings against the Russian military over the attack, which killed 196 Dutch citizens.