MH17 investigation: Dutch ask Russia for 'evidence'

A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabove), Donetsk, Ukraine on 22 July 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Investigators believe a surface-to-air missile is the most likely cause for MH17's crash

Dutch investigators want Russia to hand over radar data that Russia says proves a Ukrainian jet was in the vicinity of flight MH17 when it was downed.

Speaking to Der Spiegel magazine on Monday, Dutch chief investigator Fred Westerbeke said his team was preparing a request for assistance.

Russia maintains a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down flight MH17 on 17 July.

But Ukraine and the West blame pro-Russian separatists armed with a Russian BUK surface-to-air missile.

Mr Westerbeke told the magazine (in German) that investigators had ruled out the possibility of an accident or a terrorist attack.

He said Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 may have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile or another aircraft, though the former suggestion is more likely.

A July report by Dutch investigators found that the Boeing-777 "broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside".

The report added that there was "no evidence of technical or human error".

Iron pieces

Image copyright AP
Image caption A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children and 15 crew members, were on board flight MH17

The investigators are also waiting for satellite images from the US that might give more details about the flight's crash.

Mr Westerbeke urged patience with the investigation, saying it will take the entirety of next year and possibly longer.

Investigators have been carrying out forensic tests on iron pieces found in the plane's wreckage that might prove it was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Flight MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch citizens, were killed.

Consequently the Netherlands announced it would take the lead in investigating the causes of the incident.

But the investigation has been hampered by continued fighting near the crash site.