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Suspects In Downing Of MH17 To Be Prosecuted In Dutch Court

Armed pro-Russia militants walk next to the wreckage of Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine near Donetsk on July 18, 2014.
Armed pro-Russia militants walk next to the wreckage of Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine near Donetsk on July 18, 2014.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry says the suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine will be prosecuted in a Dutch court.

The ministry’s announcement on July 5 did not name the suspects in the July 17, 2014, tragedy, which killed 298 people from 17 different countries.

But an international criminal investigation determined in 2016 that the MH17 passenger jet was shot down by a Buk antiaircraft missile fired from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that conducted the international investigation also determined that the Buk missile system had been brought into Ukraine from Russia shortly before the MH17 was shot down and then smuggled back to Russia shortly afterward.

Russia has rejected the JIT's conclusions.

“We’re still seeing a great deal of disinformation and attempts to discredit the investigation” by the JIT, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a July 5 statement.

“Nevertheless, major results have been achieved,” Koenders said, including “the report of the investigation by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT’s presentation of findings in September 2016.”

“What’s more," he said, “the ongoing criminal investigation enjoys virtually unanimous support from the international community.”

Koenders said the decision to conduct the trial in a Dutch court was made by the countries jointly investigating the crash -- Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine, and the Netherlands.

Koenders said those countries will continue to cooperate on the prosecution and that the trial will cover all of the victims.

"In this way, the JIT countries are jointly heeding the UN Security Council’s call to hold those responsible for this incident to account," Koenders said. "We have every confidence that we can continue to count on broad international support. And I will continue to do my utmost to ensure that this remains the case."

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