According to international investigators, Russian President Vladimir Putin played an active role in the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. This emerges from wiretapped telephone calls, as the investigative team announced on Wednesday in The Hague. There are “strong indications” that the decision to supply Buk missile systems to the pro-Russian separatists came from President Putin. However, investigators said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down by a Russian Buk anti-aircraft missile over a contested area in July 2014. All 298 people on board died. Russia has always denied any involvement in the Boeing downing.
Despite the lack of evidence, Putin enjoys immunity from office and cannot be prosecuted, investigators said. The evidence was also insufficient against other suspects, it said. Therefore, the investigation would be temporarily suspended. “We have reached our limits,” said investigators.
The plane was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it was shot down over a contested area by a Russian Buk anti-aircraft missile. Charges were brought against three Russians and one Ukrainian – all of whom held leading positions in the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine at the time. Last year, three of them were found guilty in a trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. A man was acquitted. None of the defendants attended the trial. Most of the victims were Dutch, so the trial also took place in the country.
Correction: A first version of this article unclearly stated that there were indications that Putin “made the decision”. As has now been correctly stated, this means the delivery of war equipment to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. There is no evidence that Putin himself gave the order to shoot it down.