- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Dutch-led investigation into last year’s downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 concluded that the plane was brought down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian surface-to-air missile fired by rebels loyal to Moscow, according to people familiar with the probe.

Nearly one year after the Boeing 777 crashed near the Ukraine-Russia border amid the ongoing civil war between supporters of the administration in Kiev and separatists, sources who have seen the report tell CNN that it blames rebel forces for the tragedy.

According to the network, two separate sources have confirmed that the report determined pro-Russian rebels were responsible for bringing down the Boeing 777 with a “Buk” surface-to-air missile. The chief public prosecutor of the Netherlands, Fred Westerbecke, has since publicly backed that conclusion as well.

“The most likely scenario is that a BUK missile fired from [separatist-held] eastern Ukraine downed MH17,” Mr. Westerbecke explained to Australia’s 7.30 this week, citing satellite imagery, intercepted communications and mobile phone footage reviewed by the authors of the report.

Flight MH17 was going from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it crashed in a field in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch citizens, died as a result.

A preliminary report published last year by the Dutch Safety Board determined “a large number of high-energy objects” brought the plane down.

According to CNN, the DSB has distributed a draft report of the investigation for review to agencies around the globe, including the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. Neither the Dutch group nor the NTSB provided comments to CNN, however, with the latter saying it doesn’t weigh in on investigations in which it doesn’t take the lead.

The draft report is hundreds of pages long, CNN reported, and a final copy is expected to be published in October after input is received by stakeholders like the FAA. According to the network, the report may also chide Malaysian Airlines for not considering alternative flight routes to bypass eastern Ukraine in the midst of a war that has now claimed at least 6,400 lives, according to a United Nations report published last month.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has drafted a resolution with the UN Security Council ahead of this week’s anniversary that asks for the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the crash. A tribunal “would be an effective guarantee for an independent and impartial accountability process,” Malaysian officials say, and so far they have garnered the support of Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine

“Unfortunately, it seems that this is an attempt to organize a grandiose political show which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties,” responded, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN.

“Given the targeted anti-Russian campaign, launched in view of the crisis in Ukraine and the catastrophe of MH17, one cannot even hope for the proposed tribunal to be impartial,” officials added in a statement to Australian media.

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