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  • An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.

    An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

International investigators said that the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down with a missile launcher brought from Russia. 

Dutch-led prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, said Wednesday that the plane was shot down by a Russian-manufactured BUK missile fired from Eastern Ukraine which was controlled by Russian-supported rebels in 2014.

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On July 17, 2014, all 298 people on board the Boeing 777 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when the craft broke apart while flying over Eastern Ukraine.

Presenting their initial results, prosecutors said that the missile launcher which downed the flight was transported to Ukraine from Russia, though it remains unclear who arranged the transfer and who ordered it to be fired.

The Joint Investigation Team, or JIT, made up of Dutch, Australian, Belgium, Malaysian and Ukrainian investigators, said that there were nearly a hundred "persons of interest" in the investigation but the list had not been narrowed down to formal suspects.

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Russia has continually rebuffed claims that the BUK missile was fired by Russian-backed rebels in the area and that Russia supplied weapons to the rebels. The Kremlin has previously pointed the finger at the Ukrainian military for shooting down the aircraft, saying that Ukraine has yet to release its radar data from the time.

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The team of prosecutors, however, said that they were not accusing the Russian Federation, or Russian people, of involvement in the incident that pushed East-West relations to a crisis point.

"Based on the results of the criminal investigation, it may be concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by a 9M38-series missile from a Buk missile launcher and (it) was brought from the territory of the Russian Federation and after launch subsequently returned to the Russian Federation territory," said Wilbert Paulissen, director of the National Criminal Investigation Division of National Police in the Netherlands.

Based on information from a number of witnesses as well as phone calls analysis, video and content posted on social media, investigators pinpointed the location of the missile launch outside of the village Pervomaiskyi, which was held by rebel forces at the time.

Relatives of the victims are hoping the investigation will eventually lead to the prosecution of those responsible, but prosecutors don't have the authority to file charges because there is no agreement on where the case would be tried.

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