Investigators may name more suspects in downing of Flight MH17

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In November a Dutch court convicted two former Russian intelligence agents and a Ukrainian separatist leader of murder for helping to arrange the Russian missile system that was used to bring down the plane, killing 298 passengers and crew. The three men, who were tried in absentia, remain free.

Investigators continued to gather evidence about the destruction of the plane, and may identify either the crew who manned the missile system, or higher Russian military officials or politicians who approved its transfer in and out of -Ukraine.

It will be up to a separate prosecution team to try to bring charges.

Russia has denied any responsibility for the destruction of MH17.

MH17 was shot down as it flew over eastern Ukraine from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, killing all on board, including 196 Dutch nationals.

Following the destruction of the plane, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Malaysia set up a joint investigative team to gather evidence for criminal prosecutions.

The team has scheduled a press conference for 1 pm local time (1200 GMT). The families of the victims should be informed of the findings immediately before the news conference.

At the time the plane was shot down, Ukrainian forces were fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province.

While Russia had annexed Crimea in March 2014, it denied military involvement in the fighting in Donetsk at the time.

But as part of the sentencing of the three men in November, the Dutch court ruled that Russia had in fact had “overall control” of the separatist forces in Donetsk since May 2014.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 in what it calls a “special military operation” and in September it said it had annexed Donetsk.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg and Toby Sterling; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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