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MH17 investigators issue new appeal for witnesses to Russian influence

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A reconstruction of the wreckage of MH17 by the Dutch Safety Board.

The joint investigation team looking into the shooting down of flight MH17 issued a new appeal for witnesses on Thursday.

‘The JIT is looking for information on the individuals within the military and administrative hierarchy who enabled the shooting down of MH17 in eastern Ukraine using a BUK TELAR,’ the organisation said in a statement.

The JIT has also released a number of  intercepted phone calls which show leaders of the armed group ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DPR) maintained contact with Russian government officials about Russian military support.

‘The intensity of Russian influence is relevant to investigating further individuals involved in the downing of MH17,’ the appeal said. ‘That is why today the JIT is releasing this new appeal for witnesses.’

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In June, the JIT said four suspects are being prosecuted for downing flight MH17 in 2014, killing 298 passengers and crew – even though prosecutors admit that there is little chance that they will turn up in a Dutch court.

The JIT said it had identified four key suspects who ‘cooperated to obtain and deploy the Buk [missile] at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft.’

Three of the suspects are Russian and one is Ukrainian, and the JIT has served summons to Russia and Ukraine for them to appear in court in The Hague on 9th March 2020. All the suspects played key roles in the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ in eastern Ukraine.

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