MH17 shot down by Buk missile brought from Russia, say investigators

Updated 2:16 PM EDT, Wed September 28, 2016
A local resident stands among the wreckage at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia
A local resident stands among the wreckage at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting
Now playing
02:16
MH17 downed by missile brought in from Russia
A local resident stands among the wreckage at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia
A local resident stands among the wreckage at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting
Now playing
02:16
MH17 downed by missile brought in from Russia
GILZE-RIJEN, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  A general view of the cockpit wreckage at the Gilze-Rijen Military Base on October 13, 2015 in Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands. The reports focus on four subjects: the cause of the crash, the issue of flying over conflict areas, the question why Dutch surviving relatives of the victims had to wait two to four days before receiving confirmation from the Dutch authorities that their loved ones were on board flight MH17, and lastly the question to what extent the occupants of flight MH17 were consciously of the crash.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
GILZE-RIJEN, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13: A general view of the cockpit wreckage at the Gilze-Rijen Military Base on October 13, 2015 in Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands. The reports focus on four subjects: the cause of the crash, the issue of flying over conflict areas, the question why Dutch surviving relatives of the victims had to wait two to four days before receiving confirmation from the Dutch authorities that their loved ones were on board flight MH17, and lastly the question to what extent the occupants of flight MH17 were consciously of the crash. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Now playing
01:04
What happened to MH17?
The wrecked cockipt of the Malaysia Airlines flight  MH17 is exhibited during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the its crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015. Air crash investigators have concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from rebel-held eastern Ukraine, sources close to the inquiry said today, triggering a swift Russian denial. The findings are likely to exacerbate the tensions between Russia and the West, as ties have strained over the Ukraine conflict and Moscow
The wrecked cockipt of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is exhibited during a presentation of the final report on the cause of the its crash at the Gilze Rijen airbase October 13, 2015. Air crash investigators have concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from rebel-held eastern Ukraine, sources close to the inquiry said today, triggering a swift Russian denial. The findings are likely to exacerbate the tensions between Russia and the West, as ties have strained over the Ukraine conflict and Moscow's entry into the Syrian war. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
00:59
Dutch report: MH17 brought down by missile
BUK producer offers technical reenactment video of what might have happened to MH17.
BUK producer offers technical reenactment video of what might have happened to MH17.
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
01:37
MH17 crash: Russia challenges Dutch report
mh17 mothers hope for truth mclaughlin pkg_00000128.jpg
mh17 mothers hope for truth mclaughlin pkg_00000128.jpg
Now playing
03:48
MH17: A mother's hope for the truth
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
02:19
Memorials held to honor those who died on MH17
exp One Year  Anniversary of the MH17 Crash_00002001.jpg
exp One Year Anniversary of the MH17 Crash_00002001.jpg
Now playing
04:03
Investigators piece together what happened to MH17
mh17 crash aftermath footage allen cnni nr lklv_00001425.jpg
mh17 crash aftermath footage allen cnni nr lklv_00001425.jpg
Now playing
01:38
Video appears to show men rummaging through MH17 luggage
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
03:08
MH17 tragedy: One year later
tsr intv keilar baer mh17 wreckage footage_00001620.jpg
tsr intv keilar baer mh17 wreckage footage_00001620.jpg
Now playing
08:29
New video of MH17 wreckage
cnni new video mh17 wreckage _00011416.jpg
cnni new video mh17 wreckage _00011416.jpg
PHOTO: Youtube/Komsomolskaya Pravda
Now playing
02:59
New video shows MH17's fiery crash site
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
02:34
Did pro-Russian rebels shoot down MH17?
exp MH17 debris being removed from Eastern Ukraine_00002001.jpg
exp MH17 debris being removed from Eastern Ukraine_00002001.jpg
Now playing
03:47
MH17 was shot down in July 2014
idesk intv soucie mh17 victim_00005929.jpg
idesk intv soucie mh17 victim_00005929.jpg
Now playing
04:30
MH17 victim was wearing oxygen mask
exp MH17 debris being removed from Eastern Ukraine_00002001.jpg
exp MH17 debris being removed from Eastern Ukraine_00002001.jpg
Now playing
02:14
Recovering the wreckage of MH17
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
03:23
MH17 wreckage recovery begins
cnni new video mh17 wreckage _00011416.jpg
cnni new video mh17 wreckage _00011416.jpg
PHOTO: Youtube/Komsomolskaya Pravda
Now playing
01:34
New video said to show MH17 crash
pkg paton walsh ukraine battle lines_00004711.jpg
pkg paton walsh ukraine battle lines_00004711.jpg
Now playing
02:21
Battles near MH17 crash site
erin pkg lah family visits mh17 crash site_00000025.jpg
erin pkg lah family visits mh17 crash site_00000025.jpg
Now playing
01:30
First family reach MH17 crash site
tsr sot black malaysia airlines mh17 crash site_00000101.jpg
tsr sot black malaysia airlines mh17 crash site_00000101.jpg
Now playing
01:31
Scattered evidence of MH17 catastrophe
tsr dnt todd malaysia airlines mh17 putin pressure_00003113.jpg
tsr dnt todd malaysia airlines mh17 putin pressure_00003113.jpg
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
01:51
MH17 crash puts pressure on Putin
tsr sot foreman mh17 photo breakdown_00010725.jpg
tsr sot foreman mh17 photo breakdown_00010725.jpg
Now playing
02:53
Combing MH17 wreckage photos for clues
Mclaughlin earlystart _00005727.jpg
Mclaughlin earlystart _00005727.jpg
Now playing
01:01
'I've been given a second chance'
MH17 Robertson new day in Ukraine Earlystart _00001001.jpg
MH17 Robertson new day in Ukraine Earlystart _00001001.jpg
Now playing
03:56
See latest developments on MH17
es mh17 sot malaysia official approved route_00000618.jpg
es mh17 sot malaysia official approved route_00000618.jpg
Now playing
01:00
Malaysian officials defend MH17 route
tsr dnt marsh wrap mh17 crash_00001012.jpg
tsr dnt marsh wrap mh17 crash_00001012.jpg
PHOTO: Reuters
Now playing
02:52
Separatists recorded admitting fatal error?
ac ukraine conflict_00001318.jpg
ac ukraine conflict_00001318.jpg
Now playing
01:28
MH17 crashes one day after new sanctions
cnnee ariplane crash ukraine more 200 people in plane_00022005.jpg
cnnee ariplane crash ukraine more 200 people in plane_00022005.jpg
PHOTO: Twitter/MatevzNovak
Now playing
01:48
Video reportedly shows MH17 crash
malaysia airlines jet shot down first images_00001007.jpg
malaysia airlines jet shot down first images_00001007.jpg
PHOTO: Twitter.com / @MatevzNovak
Now playing
03:11
First images of Malaysia Airlines debris

Story highlights

Dutch-led group of prosecutors is gathering evidence for a potential criminal trial

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident

(CNN) —  

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile brought in from Russia and fired from a village under the control of pro-Russian separatists, a team of international prosecutors said Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference in the Dutch city of Nieuwegein, Wilbert Paulissen, the head of the Dutch National Detective Force, said there was conclusive evidence that a missile from the Russian-made Buk 9M38 missile system downed the passenger flight on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

The Buk was returned to Russian territory the next day, said Paulissen, presenting the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), a Dutch-led group of prosecutors gathering evidence for a potential criminal trial into the downing of MH17.

“We have no doubt whatsoever that conclusions we are presenting today are accurate,” he said.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the findings pointed to the “direct involvement” of Russia, and said an investigation was ongoing into specific suspects and their “place in the chain of command” in order to pursue a criminal case.

Ukraine: Everything you need to know about how we got here

Russia, which has repeatedly denied any involvement in the downing of the plane, rejected the report.

“None of the missile complexes, including BUK, have ever crossed Russian-Ukrainian border,” said Russia’s spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, in a statement.

“All data presented today is based upon two sources – the Internet and Ukrainian security services. That’s why the objectivity of this data, and so of all the conclusions made based on it, leaves us with doubt.”

Ahead of MH17 report, Russia says if plane shot down, Ukraine pulled trigger

Prosecutor: 100 people linked

Evidence presented by the JIT Wednesday included intercepted phone calls, witness accounts and material on social media that investigators said established the missile system’s route in a convoy into Ukraine, which was displayed in a computer-generated animation.

Paulissen said the missile was fired from farmland near the village of Pervomaysk which was under the control of pro-Russian rebels at the time – a conclusion supported by satellite data from the United States and the European Space Agency.

Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said there were about 100 people linked “in one way or another” to the transportation and firing of the Buk, but they were yet to formally identify individual suspects.

He said prosecutors were still seeking a clearer picture around the chain of command: “Who ordered to transport the Buk, who ordered the MH17 to be shot down, if the crew took their own decisions, or were they operating on instructions from above?”

But they believed there was a realistic chance that the perpetrators would be brought to justice, he said.

Investigators said they were not about to make any statement about the involvement of Russia, or Russians, in the downing of the plane.

First responder: What I saw at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site

Family members grateful

The findings are the first released by the group, comprised of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, in its criminal investigation into the downing of Flight MH17. Nearly 200 of those on board were Dutch citizens.

Family members of the victims were briefed ahead of the public release of the report.

Dennis Schouten, whose brother-in-law and brother-in-law’s girlfriend were killed, said he was grateful to the JIT for having put “some of the conspiracies” around the flight to rest.

“We can be sure it was a Buk installation that has brought down MH17,” he said.

Schouten said that the findings meant that Russia had “to do some explaining.”

“We can surely say they have a part in this story,” he said.

He said the key step to get justice for the victims was to identify those responsible for ordering the shootdown.

“They want to get to know their names. That is the most important thing. We know everything else but who.”

Piet Ploeg, a relative of another MH17 victim, said “there was evidence before that Russia was involved, but now [we] are sure.”

Last year, a civilian investigation conducted by the Dutch Safety Board concluded that the Boeing aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile. But the investigation was not required to assign blame for the missile strike, and did not say who was responsible.

Russia: Ukraine involvement ‘bad joke’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement Wednesday that the JIT had suspended Moscow from full participation in the investigation, relegating its efforts to only a minor role.

“It sounds like a bad joke, but at the same time they made Ukraine a full member of the investigative commission, giving it an opportunity to forge evidence and wrap the case in their favor,” she said.

The statement pointed to radar data unveiled by Russia’s defense ministry earlier this week, which it claimed that if the plane was shot down, it was by Ukrainian forces.

Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower and technology at the Royal United Services Institute, said Russia’s suggestion of Ukrainian responsibility was “absolutely ludicrous, for fairly simple reasons.”

“The Ukrainian military hasn’t fired a single surface-to-air missile in the entire multi-year conflict because the rebels don’t have an air force,” he said.

“So the only kind of potentially hostile aircraft they might encounter would be Russian air force jets and the last thing Ukraine wants is to give Russia a pretext for even more overt military confrontation on its soil.”

He said the notion that the Ukrainian forces would fire at an airliner that had been in contact with their country’s air traffic control and was leaving the country’s air space was “just insulting.”

In July, Malaysia Airlines settled damages with the families of most of the passengers killed on Flight MH17, an attorney representing some of the families confirmed.

The airline said Wednesday it was monitoring the progress of the JIT’s criminal investigation closely.

“We are ensuring that all those affected by this tragic incident are kept fully informed. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are to the families and friends of the passengers and crew onboard Flight MH17.”

CNN’s Sandi Sidhu, Lindsay Isaac, Alla Eshchenko, Damien Ward and Phil Black contributed to this report.