THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A global staff of investigators mentioned Wednesday it discovered “robust indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the availability of heavy anti-aircraft weapons to Ukrainian separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 with a Russian missile.
Nevertheless, members of the Joint Investigation Group mentioned that they had inadequate proof to prosecute Putin or another suspects and so they suspended their 8½-year inquiry into the taking pictures down that killed all 298 individuals on board the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Russia has at all times denied any involvement within the downing of the flight over jap Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and refused to cooperate with the worldwide investigation.
Dutch prosecutors mentioned that “there are robust indications that the Russian president selected supplying” a Buk missile system — the weapon that downed MH17 — to Ukrainian separatists.
“Though we converse of robust indications, the excessive bar of full and conclusive proof just isn’t reached,” Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer mentioned, including that with out Russian cooperation, “the investigation has now reached its restrict. All leads have been exhausted.”
She additionally mentioned that, as head of state, Putin would have immunity from prosecution within the Netherlands. The staff performed a recording of an intercepted telephone name through which they mentioned Putin might be heard discussing the battle in jap Ukraine.
“Are we disillusioned? No, as a result of we expect we got here additional than we had ever thought in 2014. Would we have now appreciated to come additional? After all, sure,” mentioned Andy Kraag of the Dutch police.
The staff knowledgeable relations of these killed within the downing of MH17 of their findings earlier than making them public.
“There was disappointment as a result of … they needed to know why MH17 was shot down,” Kraag mentioned. “We’re actually clear on what has occurred, however the reply to the query why MH17 was shot down nonetheless stays in Russia.”
Van Boetzelaer mentioned that whereas the investigation is being suspended, telephone traces will stay open for potential witnesses who should need to present proof. If that occurs, the inquiry might be reactivated.
Russian officers say that a call to present rebels with navy assist over the summer time of 2014 was in Putin’s arms.
A call to provide arms was even postponed for every week “as a result of there is just one who comes to a decision (…), the one that is at the moment at a summit in France,” the investigative staff mentioned, citing a telephone dialog that was referring to Putin.
Prosecutors mentioned that on the time Putin was at a commemoration of D-Day in France.
The announcement by the investigative staff comes practically three months after a Dutch court docket convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian insurgent for his or her roles in taking pictures down the airplane. One Russian was acquitted by the court docket.
Not one of the suspects appeared for the trial and it was unclear if the three who had been discovered responsible of a number of murders will ever serve their sentences.
The convictions and the court docket’s discovering that the surface-to-air Buk missile got here from a Russian navy base had been seen as a transparent indication that Moscow had a task within the tragedy. Russia has at all times denied involvement. The Russian International Ministry accused the court docket in November of bowing to stress from Dutch politicians, prosecutors and the information media.
However the November convictions held that Moscow was in total management in 2014 over the self-proclaimed Donetsk Folks’s Republic, the separatist space of jap Ukraine the place the missile was launched. The Buk missile system got here from the Russian navy’s 53rd Anti-Plane Missile Brigade, primarily based within the metropolis of Kursk.
The Joint Investigation Group is made up of consultants from the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine. A lot of the victims had been Dutch. It had continued to examine the crew of the missile system that introduced down the airplane and people who ordered its deployment in Ukraine.
In addition to the prison trial that was held within the Netherlands, the Dutch and Ukrainian governments are suing Russia on the European Courtroom of Human Rights over its alleged function within the downing of MH17.