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MH17 Ukraine disaster: Dutch to report on cause

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The Dutch Safety Board is to publish a final report on why Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 broke up over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board.

Preliminary findings say it was hit by “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft”, fuelling speculation that a surface-to-air missile was responsible.

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels brought down the Boeing 777, while Russia blames Ukraine. But the report will not say who was to blame.
Moscow is to issue its own report.

The plane – flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 at the height of the conflict between government troops and the pro-Russian separatists.

There were 193 Dutch nationals among the victims.

Four questions
The Dutch Safety Board is expected to present its findings first to the victims’ families and relatives and then to reporters at the Gilze-Rijen military base.
The board will also show parts of the aircraft that have been brought back from the rebel-held Donetsk region and reconstructed.

The report will look at four key issues:

  • what caused the plane to disintegrate in mid-air
  • why it was flying over the conflict region
  • why did some relatives have to wait four days before receiving official confirmation that their loved ones were on board
  • To what extent were the passengers and crew aware of what was happening in the final moments.

However, the report will not directly address the issue of who was responsible for the disaster.

This is because the board does not have the authority to apportion blame under the rules governing international flight crash investigations.

A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is still going on, and its findings are expected to be published in several months’ time.

Prosecutors have suggested that the aircraft was most likely brought down by a Buk surface-to-air missile. In August, they said they were investigating fragments “possibly originating from a Buk”.

The government in Ukraine and several Western officials have said the missile was brought from Russia and launched from the rebel-held part of Ukraine.

Russia denies the accusations, saying the plane was shot down by either a surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian forces or a Ukrainian fighter jet.

The government in Kiev rejects these claims as groundless.

In July, Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal into the MH17 air disaster.

President Vladimir Putin said at the time the establishment of such a tribunal would be “premature” and “counter-productive”.

Before the Dutch report is released on Tuesday, Russia’s state arms producer Almaz-Antey – which makes Buk missiles – is expected to announce the results of its own investigation into the crash.

Senior Russian government officials have said the Dutch investigators have not been co-operating with Russian experts.

“A series of facts (about the shooting down) that were presented by Russia seem have not been taken into consideration – for reasons that we do not understand,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said on Monday.

Source: BBC