The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpar on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down by a missile over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board. Addressing reporters from The Hague on Wednesday, prosecutor Fred Westerbeke revealed three Russians and one Ukrainian national were suspected of being responsible for the downing of the Boeing 777 jet. 

He said: “From the point investigation team we have decided to prosecute four suspects for downing flight MH17. This is the start of the Dutch criminal proceedings.

“This is the start of the Dutch criminal proceedings.

“This aeroplane, Malaysian airlines flight MH17, with its 298 passengers ended up in an area almost five years ago in eastern Ukraine where an armed conflict was going on and that conflict is still going on today, turning an area of war into a crime scene.

“This made finding the perpetrators complicated.”

The Dutch-led international investigation team have said MH17 was shot down by a missile, a claim Moscow has rejected.

The suspect have been named as Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko.

The investigators confirmed all four suspects were in eastern Ukraine on they of the crash and “played a crucial part in the armed conflict and they had important positions”.

The criminal proceedings will begin on 9 March, 2020, at 10am. 

Mr Westerbeke added: “The criminal trial will take place even when the suspects choose not to be present.

“JIT (Joint Investigation Team) has informed the family of the victims as much as they could about the progress of the investigation.

“Pending the prosecution, we will inform them about the upcoming criminal trial as well as the position that they might have.”

JIT announced flight MH17 had been shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38 series.

The missile had been fired from an agricultural field near Pervomaiskiy.

The investigators found the weapon had been bought in from the Russian Federation.

The investigators were able to narrow down the suspects when focussing on the transportation of the BUK missile to Pervomaiskiy.

International arrest warrants have now been issued for the three wanted Russian nationals, who reside in Russia, and one Ukrainian national, suspected of launching the deadly missile.

The suspects will be placed on national and international wanted lists.

The JIT also used the press conference to make a fresh call for witnesses. 

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