Joint investigation team begins new witness appeal in Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash case

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier claimed that the recent findings on the culprit behind the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was a 'politically-motivated' conclusion to solely blame Russia. — Reuters pic. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

THE HAGUE, Nov 15, 2019, TASS. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), established to investigate the MH17 crash in Ukraine in July 2014, has published an appeal looking for new information from witnesses in the case, TASS reported.

“The JIT is looking for information on the individuals within the military and administrative hierarchy who enabled the shooting down of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine using a BUK TELAR,” the press release published on Thursday informs.

“Recent analysis of witness statements and other information revealed that Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support and that the ties between Russian officials and DPR-leaders appear closer,” the statement reads. “The intensity of Russian influence is relevant to investigating further individuals involved in the downing of MH17. That is why today the JIT releases this new appeal for witnesses.”

“For the purpose of this witness appeal, the JIT has released several intercepted telephone calls <…> and asks questions,” the team wrote. “Details are revealed about secure means of communication used between DPR fighters and Russian officials. The telephone numbers that were used are from the same series and appear to be provided by the Russian security service FSB. These telephone numbers were used on a daily basis to discuss administrative, financial and military matters in the DPR. The JIT wants to know by whom these telephone numbers were used.”

The MH17 crash

The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines crashed on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in the east of the Donetsk Region. As a result, 298 people, citizens of 10 states, were killed in the crash. The parties to the armed conflict in Donbass accused each other of being complicit in the tragedy.

On May 24, 2018, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, released its update on the criminal investigation into the MH17 crash. According to the JIT, “the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17 originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade (hereinafter 53rd brigade), a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the accusations saying that none of the Russian Army’s air defense missile systems had ever crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine, while the launched missile was handed over to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 1986 and has not been in possession of the Russian military since then.

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