The Russian government has rejected the findings of prosecutors at The Hague regarding the missile attack on flight MH17 in 2014. Investigators claim to have found “strong indications” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the incident.

Putin allegedly approved missile delivery

Investigators have alleged that President Putin personally approved the supply of the missile that was used to shoot down the commercial jet. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, leading to the deaths of 298 passengers and crew.

According to France24, Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer told reporters,

“There are strong indications that a decision was made at a presidential level, by President Putin, to supply… the Buk TELAR missile system.”

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The investigation team highlighted a delay in sending weapons to Ukraine while Putin was at a D-Day commemoration in France as evidence that Russia’s president had to be personally involved in such a decision. Additionally, a series of intercepted phone calls strongly suggest that Putin had full knowledge of the weapons delivery, with the Russian leader heard speaking about a “military component” during a call with a separatist leader from the Lugansk region.

Russia does not accept MH17 investigation

A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the country “could not accept” the findings of The Hague’s investigation into the downing of MH17, claiming it was not involved in the process and that prosecutors had failed to present sufficient evidence publicly.

As reported by Reuters, Peskov said,

“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.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, officials from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine set up a Joint Investigation Team to get to the truth and obtain justice for the families of those killed. The Russian government has previously rejected Western court rulings on the MH17 accident, most recently when two Russian intelligence operatives and a Ukrainian separatist were convicted in absentia of their involvement.

Not enough evidence for a criminal case

While intercepted phone calls strongly implicate Russia’s incumbent president, investigators have conceded that the body of evidence is not conclusive enough to warrant further criminal proceedings. One phone call played captured a Russian official stating “there is only one who makes a decision… the person who is currently at a summit in France,” while Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was heard saying it was “ultimately the president’s decision.”

In response, Psekov said,

“We know that a recording of a supposed phone call was published … in which not a single word is said about weapons. 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.”

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As Simple Flying reported yesterday, the MH17 case has now been suspended due to the lack of evidence, with investigators stating that “all leads have now been exhausted.” Even if further evidence were to come to light proving Putin’s involvement beyond doubt, his immunity as head of state would protect him from consequences – Dutch prosecutor van Boetzelaer added,

“The president of the Russian Federation enjoys, at the very least, immunity under international law in view of his position as head of state. Only after he is head of state can we look into what’s next.”

Do you see investigators resuming this case in the future? Let us know in the comments

Source: Reuters, France24


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