MH17 team wants probe on Russian line of command
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 said it wants to probe further the alleged Russian line of command behind the missile attack that killed 298 people.
Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said that “We want to know about the line of command that contributed to making a Buk missile available and possibly more.”
Responding to a question about possible Kremlin involvement, he said Wednesday he would go as far up the chain as need be.
“We want to have a better view of the line of command and who was involved. And we do not impose ourselves any limits,” he said.
A former rebel leader in eastern Ukraine is denying that the separatists are to blame for downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Russian national Alexander Borodai, who was rebel leader in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in 2014 when the plane went down, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he knows that the accusations leveled against the rebels are untrue.
Dutch National Police on Wednesday said that it charged three Russians and one Ukrainian with murder over the downing of flight MH17 in July 2014 with the loss of 298 lives. One of them is rebel commander Igor Girkin.
The Dutch police also presented a wiretap of an alleged conversation between Borodai and senior Kremlin official Vladislav Surkov in which they discuss military aid for the separatists.
Borodai on Wednesday denied he did this, calling the released wiretap a “fake.”
However, the international team investigating the downing of flight MH17 will not ask Russia and Ukraine to extradite the four suspects.
Prosecutor Westerbeke said the team realized that the constitutions of both countries prohibit that.
“In the short term we will ask Russia to hand the summons to the suspects who are in the Russian Federation,” he said.
The investigators will also ask Russia to arrange for the suspects to be interviewed about the charges, he added.
One of the named murder suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has earlier denied that Ukrainian separatists shot down the plane.
Igor Girkin told The Associated Press by phone on Wednesday that “the insurgents did not shoot it down.”
The plane went down in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board, over separatist-held eastern Ukraine. An international investigation team looking into the plane crash has blamed it on a Russian missile that was shot from separatist-held territory.
Girkin, a Russian national, was a military chief of the Russia-backed rebels in the area at the time and was named by the investigators on Wednesday as one of the key suspects.
The mother of one of the victims had said the trial of suspects would start on March 9, 2020. Investigators briefed the families Wednesday morning before they were due to give a news conference.
Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers were among the dead, expressed relief that five years after the plane was blown out of the sky above conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, someone was being held accountable.
All 298 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed on July 17, 2014, when a missile shattered the Boeing 777 in midair sending debris and bodies raining down onto farms and fields of sunflowers. /kga
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