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Australian police helped prove missile downed MH17 jet

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australian detectives helped prove that fragments found in the wreckage of MH17 and in victims’ bodies came from a Russian-made Buk missile, a Dutch court has heard.

Australian detectives helped prove that fragments found in the wreckage of MH17 and in victims' bodies came from a Russian-made Buk missile, a Dutch court has heard.

Prosecutor Thijs Berger outlined the forensic investigation into the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the District Court of the Hague on Monday.

All 298 on board the plane were killed, including 38 people who called Australia home, when it was shot down in Ukraine, over an area where Ukrainian government forces were fighting Russian-backed rebels.

Russians Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girking, Sergey Dubinsky and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko are being tried in absentia in the Netherlands for murder and the destruction of a civilian airliner.

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Berger explained how investigators had eliminated all other scenarios that could have caused the crash, including an onboard explosion, an attack by a fighter jet and a surface-to-air missile other than a Russian-made BUK missile.

The prosecutor said Australian Federal Police went to Ukraine to analyse two dismantled Buk missiles - an older M938 and a newer 9M38M1 - in October 2014.

Berger said the investigation found three unique fragmentation shapes - a tile, a bar and a bow-tie or butterfly - inside the dissassembled missiles in Ukraine.

Australian detectives later visually matched those shapes with fragments found in the victims' bodies, belongings and plane wreckage.

"The Australian Federal Police made a visual comparison between the foreign parts found on the one hand and the parts of the two Buk missiles of types 9M38 and 9M38M1 that were dismantled in Ukraine on the other," Berger told the court.

A BUK mark 1 surface to air launcher.

"In doing so, they looked at features such as mould, tool marks (such as milling) and magnetic properties."

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Earlier, Dutch prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi said the Russian government and individuals had obstructed the investigation with false evidence.

"In many cases these people appeared to be driven by a desire for money or attention for themselves," she told the court.

"There are indications that several of these people were paid by the Russian Federation."

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Sabine ten Doesschate complained that travel restrictions caused by the pandemic has stopped her team meeting their client Pulatov, who lives in Russia.

"A relationship of trust needs to grow and we intended to invest in that ... by travelling to Russia (and spending) about two weeks there in order to discuss the case file with him," she told the court.

"Without such investments in time, it's in fact impossible to build such a relationship of trust."

Ten Doesschate also complained that the defence team had not had time to review the 40,000 page case file.

"We would rather have much more time and opportunity to prepare and we would like put the proceedings on hold in the meantime and definitely during the corona limitations as has happened in many other cases," she said.

The trial is set to continue on Tuesday.

- Reported with AAP

Source: 9News

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