UK

'Russian BUK Missile Parts' Found At Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Site

11/08/2015 13:18 BST | Updated 11/08/2015 14:59 BST

Fragments believed to be from a Russian missile system have been found at the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down, Dutch investigators say.

Prosecutors said the parts, thought to be from a BUK surface-to-air missile system were found at the location of the crash in eastern Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board in July last year.

The aircraft crashed in an area held by pro-Russian rebels. Russia and the rebels deny any involvement in the crash and claim the Ukraine military is to blame.

mh17 crash site

Parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site

The Ukraine and many Western countries have accused the rebels of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile. But Moscow has rejected accusations it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.

Last month Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution that would have set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing the jet.

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Eleven countries on the 15-member council voted in favor of the proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine, while three countries abstained: China, Angola and Venezuela. A resolution needs nine votes in favor to pass and no veto by Russia, the United States, China, Britain or France.

In a statement on Tuesday prosecutors said 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."

Spokesman Wim de Bruin said prosecutors will now enlist the help of weapons and forensics experts to investigate the fragments.

buk missiles

BUK surface-to-air missile system, the same type of missile believed to have been used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17 (stock photo)

The parts were found during Dutch recovery missions to the crash site. Dutch authorities have conducted several missions to the site to recover human remains, victims' belongings and parts of the downed Boeing 777.

Prosecutors have previously said they are treating a missile strike as the most likely scenario, but Tuesday's announcement was the first time they have described possible physical evidence of a missile.

However, they cautioned that the conclusion cannot yet be drawn "that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17."

MH17 crash over the Ukraine

The parts are in the possession of the Dutch Safety Board, which is conducting the criminal investigation into the crash. Most of the victims on board were Dutch citizens.

A report by the Dutch Safety Board into the cause of the crash is expected by the end of October, while the separate international criminal investigation is likely to take months more to complete.

Flight MH17 - a Boeing 777-200ER travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur - was in transit over the war-torn region when it disappeared from radar screens.

Victims of MH17

MH17 crash over the Ukraine