Over two years after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 went down over eastern Ukraine, international prosecutors claimed it had conclusive evidence that Russian-backed rebels fired the Buk missile that killed all 298 passengers and crew on the Boeing 777.
According to the findings from the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, after the separatists brought MH17 down, the Russian-made 9M38 Buk that launched the attack returned to Russian territory the next day. Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Dutch National Detective Force, said "We have no doubt whatsoever that conclusions we are presenting today are accurate."
CNN reports that Paulissen pointed the finger at farmland near the village of Pervomaysk, which was under control of Russian separatists when MH17 went down, as the source of the Buk missile. While the JIT claimed there were around 100 people involved in the transportation and eventual firing of the SAM system, investigators weren't willing to point to specific individuals for their role in the incident. That said, Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said he believed there was a realistic chance authorities could bring individuals involved to justice for their part in the crash.
The Dutch-led investigation looked at intercepted phone calls, witness accounts, reports from social media to help determine how the Buk system got into Ukraine. The JIT displayed it's the Buk's route through Ukraine in a computer-generated animation – satellite data from the US and European Space Agency backed up the JIT's findings.
Despite the strong evidence, investigators weren't willing to implicate the Russian government in the plot. But the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wasn't nearly so picky, CNN reports. The Ukrainians claim the JIT's findings point to "direct involvement" of the Russian government, something the Putin Administration has repeatedly denied.
"None of the missile complexes, including Buk, have ever crossed Russian-Ukrainian border," Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement obtained by CNN. "All data presented today is based upon two sources – the Internet and Ukrainian security services. That's why the objectivity of this data, and so of all the conclusions made based on it, leaves us with doubt."