Newspaper article International New York Times

Crash Investigators Say They May Have Missile Parts ; Dutch Team's Statement Points toward Possible Cause in Ukraine Disaster

Newspaper article International New York Times

Crash Investigators Say They May Have Missile Parts ; Dutch Team's Statement Points toward Possible Cause in Ukraine Disaster

Article excerpt

The parts could help provide clues for a criminal investigation into what caused Flight 17 to come down in rebel-controlled territory last year.

Prosecutors in the Netherlands disclosed on Tuesday that they had found what could be pieces of a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system in eastern Ukraine, in the area of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The announcement brings the methodical prosecutorial investigation of the crash closer to the version that burst into the public eye nearly immediately last summer, blaming a surface-to-air missile.

It does not, though, assign blame to one or another of the sides in the Ukraine war, or to the Russians who back separatist rebels.

The disclosure is significant as the first from Dutch investigators to link physical evidence with a specific type of missile system, a Buk surface-to-air system.

If confirmed, their discovery could prove embarrassing for Russia, as it would rule out an air-to-air missile strike by a Ukrainian fighter jet as the cause of the disaster, which was the version promulgated by the Russian Defense Ministry soon after the crash.

Dutch investigators had said last fall that damage to the fuselage was consistent with the impact of "high energy" shrapnel from a missile, without elaborating what type.

The plane was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on July 17, 2014, when it broke up over rebel territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, most of them citizens of the Netherlands.

The investigators said the parts could help determine not only what brought down the jetliner but who was responsible. They also cautioned that it was too early to draw a direct "causal connection" between the discovery of the parts and the downing of the plane.

"These parts have been secured during a previous recovery- mission in eastern Ukraine and are in possession of the criminal investigation team and the Dutch Safety Board," the investigators said in a statement. "The parts are of particular interest to the criminal investigation, as they can possibly provide more information about who was involved in the crash of MH17. …

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