There are “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved the decision to provide separatists in Ukraine with the missile that shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, Dutch investigators said Wednesday.
Citing intercepted telephone conversations by Russian government officials, the Public Prosecution Service’s Joint Investigation Team said there were “strong indications that in Russia, the president made the decision about the provision of the Buk-TELAR to separatists of the DPR,” or the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, in eastern Ukraine.
Investigators nonetheless said “the high bar of full and conclusive evidence is not met,” and that regardless, as a head of state, Putin has immunity from prosecution. The Joint Investigation Team said it had shared its findings with the families of the 298 victims.
CNN has reached out to the Kremlin for reaction. Moscow has repeatedly denied any responsibility for the attack, and Russian officials and state media have put out a range of often contradictory explanations for the tragedy.
Flight MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed.
Dutch investigators had already concluded that the missile that downed MH17 was a Russian Buk rocket, fired from a launcher belonging to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade. A Dutch court in November found two Russians and a separatist Ukrainian guilty of mass murder for their involvement in the downing of MH17.
In their newest finding, investigators say that DPR leaders appeared to be in “close contact” with Kremlin advisers and the Russian intelligence service.
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