Netherlands set to name suspects in 2014 attack on MH17

Investigators are expected to announce criminal proceedings over the July 2014 attack on the commercial aircraft.

The blackened remains of an aircraft engine and other debris from MH17 in a field in eastern Ukraine. A man is standing in the background
The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible [Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters]

International investigators are set to launch criminal proceedings against the people suspected of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine nearly five years ago.

The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the midair attack on the plane will inform victims’ families of the progress in their case on Wednesday morning and make a presentation to the media afterwards.

Dutch broadcasters RTL and NOS reported late last week that investigators would name individual suspects.

An Interfax Ukraine report on Tuesday quoted Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Olena Zerkal in an interview as saying prosecutors would name the four “top” suspects.

MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed.

A joint investigation team formed by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.

Russian denials

The Russian government denies having provided any support to pro-Russia rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops and also denied any involvement in shooting down MH17.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said that Moscow was not to blame and that there were other explanations for what happened.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.

Prosecutors have previously said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

They said their next step would be to identify individual culprits so they could be put on trial.

The Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and Moscow is not expected to surrender suspects. Dutch authorities have said suspects may be tried in absentia.

Source: Reuters