The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), in which Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands have been cooperating since 2014, today releases a new witness appeal in the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17. The JIT is looking for information on the persons within the military and administrative hierarchy who enabled the shooting down of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine using a BUK-TELAR.
Contacts with the Russian Federation
The JIT witness call of June 2019 showed that the leadership of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DPR) maintained contact with Russian officials about military support in Eastern Ukraine. Recent analysis of information obtained by the JIT, including witness statements by former DPR-members, revealed that Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support. This is supported by recorded telephone calls between the leaders of the DPR and high-ranking Russian officials.
For the purpose of this witness appeal, the JIT has released several intercepted telephone calls on the website www.jitmh17.com and ask questions.
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.
On 19 June 2019, the JIT announced that four defendants, Igor Vsevolodovich GIRKIN, Sergey Nikolayevich DUBINSKIY, Oleg Yuldashevich PULATOV and Leonid Volodymyrovych KHARCHENKO, were to be prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the downing of flight MH17. The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service alleges that the four cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. The defendants are charged with causing the crash of flight MH17 and the murder of its 298 passengers and crewmembers. The trial will start on the 9th of March 2020 at 10.00 AM before the District Court of The Hague.
The hearings will be conducted at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (address: Duizendbladweg 100, Badhoevedorp, The Netherlands).
The JIT announced in June 2019 that the criminal investigation is ongoing and will continue to focus on the crew of the BUK-TELAR and other persons who were involved in the deployment of this weapon.
The indications of close ties between Russian government officials and leaders of the DPR raise questions about their possible involvement in the deployment of the BUK-TELAR, which brought down flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The JIT already concluded this BUK TELAR originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation. The JIT is looking for witnesses who can share information about those who commanded the deployment of this BUK-TELAR.