Russian Federation says findings of MH17 crash investigation are groundless

Thursday, 20 Jun, 2019

The four will be tried - likely in absentia - under Dutch law at a court in The Hague on March 9 next year.

Ukraine's Kharchenko had no military background, but is believed to have led a combat unit in Donetsk in July 2014.

Team members represent the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

Over 190 victims were Dutch, with the crew predominantly Malaysian.

Zerkal added that the transfer of weapons like the BUK anti-aircraft missile system "is impossible without the (Russian) top brass's permission" and said others would have been involved beyond those being charged.

Investigators briefed the families Wednesday morning before they were due to give a news conference.

The four are accused of bringing the Buk surface-to-air missile system from Russian Federation into Ukraine, although they are not specifically charged with firing the missiles at the plane itself.

But now, four men have been charged with murder by investigators, accusing them of shooting down the passenger jet and killing all 298 people on board the flight.

Asked if she expected the suspects to attend the trial, Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the plane with his girlfriend Daisy, said: "No".

"Even if that was the original plan, we still hold them responsible for the downing of MH17", they said.

"They have all been involved with the transport of the Buk missile which downed the MH17 plane, according to investigators", said Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, reporting from Moscow.

After a meticulous investigation, an global team of investigators past year announced the plane was shot down by a Russian BUK military missile. "It is a good start". Ukrainian national Kharchenko was head of a reconnaissance battalion for the second department, it said.

The announcement of the prosecution team further pointed fingers at the Russian authorities and they called on further cooperation from the government.

Girkin is a former colonel in Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Dubinskiy worked for Russian military intelligence agency GRU and Pulatov was in Russia's special forces, investigators said according to CNN.

The Joint Investigations Team (JIT) says Donetsk Defence Minister Girkin, Intelligence Head Dubinsky, Deputy Intelligence Head Pulatov and field commander Kharchenko were responsible for the Buk missile launcher being brought into the area from Russian Federation. As for Russia's lack of cooperation, she said, "I think it's disgusting".

The charges were brought on the recommendation of the Joint Investigative Team (JIT), a Dutch-led global commission also involving Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine, the countries that, along with Holland, lost the most citizens. A video published by News Corp Australia a year later showed Russian-backed rebels arriving on the scene to discover it was a Boeing 777 civilian flight, packed with hundreds of tourists on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

"Five years ago a lot of people said you can start an investigation but you won't get much out of it", Mr Westerbeke said. The 298 who died came from 17 countries.

Known by the call sign "Krot" - Russian for mole, the animal - his photo was featured on billboards with wanted notices for separatists in the Donetsk region in August 2014, Bellingcat said.