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Officials from the Joint Investigation Team probing the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 appear at a press conference in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Mike Corder

At a press conference in the Netherlands this afternoon, international investigators announced that the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands would prosecute four people for bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

International warrants have been issued for the arrest of the suspects, three of whom are Russian, and one is Ukrainian. They will be tried on murder charges before a Dutch court in March 2020.

Investigative website Bellingcat published their own report identifying twelve militants they allege are linked to the downing of MH17.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight was shot down during one of the periods of intense fighting in the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has to date claimed at least 13,000 lives. The civilian death toll is estimated at 3,331 as of May 2019.

The criminal inquiry, carried out by an international Joint Investigation Team (JIT), coordinated by the Netherlands and including law enforcement authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, has been progressing steadily, if slowly, since 2014.

In 2015, a report by the Dutch safety board established that the plane was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile. In 2018, the JIT investigators presented findings indicating that the BUK system, carrying the missile, which brought down the flight, belonged to a Russian military unit. According to the report, the system was transported from Russia into Ukraine on the same day the plane was shot down, to an area controlled by pro-Russian “separatists,” from where the missile was launched and then the system was transported back to Russia. These findings were also made independently by Bellingcat.

As Russia continues to deny its involvement in the downing of the plane, relatives of the victims have been waiting to learn who is responsible for the attack, which claimed the lives of all 298 people onboard the plane. Hopefully, today’s findings bring justice and accountability for the MH17 victims one big step closer.

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