Katie Kerekes, FISM News
International prosecutors are claiming there are “strong indications” that implicate Russian President Vladimir Putin in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in July 2014.
The results of the probe, announced by the Joint Investigation Team in front of a Dutch court Wednesday, claim a high probability of Putin’s approval to supply the long-range missiles which were used to shoot down the passenger aircraft which held nearly 300 innocent civilians.
“There is concrete information that the request from the separatists is presented to the president, and that a positive decision is taken,” the investigators said, citing recorded telephone conversations between Russian officials as evidence of the implication.
According to investigators, the recordings captured discussions pertaining to Russian military support of the separatists, and officials stated that the decision “rests with the president.”
MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made BUK missile system, as it flew over eastern Ukraine from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine, Malaysia, and the Netherlands formed an investigation team to gather evidence with the intent to prosecute those responsible for the plane’s destruction.
While investigators believe the implications against Putin are strong, they maintain that the evidence gathered in the phone calls is inadequate to prove Putin or any Russian officials’ direct involvement in the missile strike.
“Although we speak of strong indications, the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached,” Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer said at a news conference at The Hague, adding that “The findings are insufficient for the prosecution of new suspects.”
According to Reuters, Russia has “repeatedly denied state involvement in the downing of MH17.”
“We know that a recording of a supposed phone call was published … in which not a single word is said about weapons,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday in a statement dismissing the claims. “Even assuming that this conversation is real … there is not one word about weapons. Nobody has published anything else, so it’s impossible to say anything.”
“Russia did not take part in this investigation, so we cannot accept these results – especially since no basis for these statements has been made public,” he concluded.