Dutch report confirms Buk missile shot down Flight MH17
Dutch investigators say a Russia-made anti-aircraft missile struck the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, causing the Boeing 777 to break apart in midair before crashing to the ground.
The Buk missile was fired from eastern Ukraine but the Dutch Safety Board’s final report released today falls short of identifying who was responsible.
The report confirms a long-held theory that a missile caused the July 2014 crash that killed all 298 people on board.
DSB chairman Tjibbe Joustra says further forensic analysis will be required to determine the exact launch location within a 320sq km area of eastern Ukraine, which is contested by rebel and government forces.
A separate criminal probe investigating culpability is being carried out by the Dutch National Public Prosecution Service.
“Persons of interest” key to the investigation have been identified, the report says, without giving details. It adds that investigating and eventually arresting perpetrators can take time.
Another major finding is that the Ukrainian government should have closed the airspace over the conflict zone.
Mr Joustra says commercial flights were at risk after several military planes were shot down.
The 279-page report urges governments and airlines to do more to reduce the risk of flying over conflict areas, arguing that the current system “does not work as it should.”
The report makes several recommendations for change, adding momentum to a global push to share information about hazards to commercial flights.
In Kiev, the head of Ukraine’s air-traffic control service said before the downing of MH17 “no one could imagine that such powerful facilities, powerful equipment such as a Buk could be used against civil aircraft.”
How it happened
Dutch authorities established the type of missile based on the pattern of distinctively shaped fragments found in both the wreckage and the bodies from the cockpit. Investigators concluded those fragments match only a specific type of Buk warhead.
The missile warhead detonated outside the airplane on the left of the cockpit, spraying hundreds of fragments and killing three crew members. The forward section of the plane then broke off.
It took just a minute or 90 seconds for the wreckage hit the ground. The blast from the warhead was detected on the cockpit voice recorder.
Russian missile maker Almaz Antey attempted to counter the report by assembling hundreds of journalists at a complex in outer Moscow, where its chief executive claimed experiments showed if MH17 was shot down it was by a different missile type from the Buk.
Malaysia’s transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, said his country and other states are trying to set up an independent international court to prosecute those found responsible.
“Our fight for justice is far from over,” he said. But this could be difficult as Russia has already vetoed a Security Council resolution to establish a criminal investigation.
Russia dismissed the report as politically motivated, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov saying it reflects an “attempt to come to a biased conclusion and carry out political orders.”
But Mr Joustra says no scenario other than the use of a Buk missile can explain the evidence.
The main theory propagated in Russia after the crash is that Ukrainian jet fighters shot down MH17 but Mr Joustra says the wreckage shows clearly that an air-to-air attack wasn’t responsible.
RAW DATA: The full Dutch Safety Board MH17 report (PDF here)
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