The individuals suspected of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and killing all 298 people aboard are set to be formally charged in the Netherlands.
The Joint Investigation Team, which includes Australia, is on Wednesday expected to name those accused of providing — and firing — the missile that struck the passenger plane as it flew over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
Investigators are also set to lay a number of criminal charges in Utrecht on the alleged culprits, and potentially the accessories to their crimes.
Ukrainian rescue servicemen inspect part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Picture: Rob Stothard/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The accused are likely to be Russian nationals or Moscow-aligned Ukrainians, who were fighting with Ukrainian government forces in the Battle of Shakhtarsk near Hrabove, where MH17 was shot down five years ago.
Investigators have already announced the Buk missile launcher used in the attack came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade’s base in the city of Kursk, about a day’s drive over the border from the crash site.
Part of the wreckage after the plane was downed by a missile. Picture: AFP/Alexander KhudoteplySource:AFP
Investigators will also likely reveal on Wednesday whether the suspects intentionally shot down MH17 or accidentally pulled the trigger and subsequently tried to conceal their mistake.
The announcement, coming five years after the tragedy, will allow a case to finally be brought before the courts, likely in the Netherlands, and provide some solace for the victims’ families.
Those killed include 38 Australians citizens and residents, 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, 10 Britons and one New Zealander.
The other passengers killed include Belgians, Germans, Filipinos and a Canadian.
Mother-of-two Liliane Derden, 50, from Hall in Canberra’s north, was among the Australian victims.Source:Supplied
Sydney victim of MH17 Jack O’Brien, who was 25-years-old.Source:Supplied
Dutch and Australian officials held meetings with Russian counterparts behind closed doors earlier this year, but it’s uncertain whether the suspects will be handed over to face the courts or be tried in absentia.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal said last week that Russia had not responded to a formal request for legal assistance.
The downing of MH17 is the worst deliberately-caused air disaster since 2996 people were killed in the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001.
It is also the second-worst deliberately-caused plane crash in history after September 11.
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