MH17 crash trial: Russian special services were near Buk missile launcher when airliner was shot down

Russian special services, presumably the FSB, were near the Buk missile launcher, from which the Boeing MH17 was shot down over the Donbas, said Dutch prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi at the court hearing in the case of the Boeing MH17 air disaster, RIA Novosti reports.

The prosecutor referred to a witness who was classified under the code name M58. Presumably, he is a former fighter of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. According to the witness, the Buk crew spoke "with a Russian accent." "Those present at the launch site were pleased when they were told that a military transport plane had been shot down," he said. The prosecution also noted that there were witnesses who saw the launch of the Buk missile directly.

Prosecutors say they are all classified to protect them from possible prosecution. "Russia can use its special services to identify these witnesses," the court said.

The court convened on March 9 and 10. The next hearing will be held on March 23. The case on the merits is likely to take place in June.

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down near the city of Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. All crew members and passengers were killed, a total of 298 people, including 80 children.

At a press conference in The Hague in May 2018, nearly four years later, the JIT presented fragments of the missile used to shoot down the plane. The Buk system from which the missile was fired belonged to the 53rd anti-air missile brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, which is based in Kursk.

In June 2019, the JIT released the names of four suspects in the MH17 case: The three Russian citizens Sergey “Gloomy” Dubinsky, Oleg “Caliph” Pulatov and Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, and the Ukrainian citizen Leonid “Mole” Kharchenko. Former DPR militant Vladimir Tsemakh was later also declared a suspect, but Ukraine handed him over to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that the defendants are suspected of committing “a terrorist act which lead to human deaths”.

After five years of investigation, the JIT has established the exact time and route taken by the Buk anti-air missile system from Russia to Ukraine and back, the time and place where the fatal missile was fired, and obtained information about more than 150 people who were involved in the transportation of the Buk.

  MH17, Russia, Netherlands