Report: BUK missile fragments found in bodies of MH17 victims

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Shrapnel from a Buk missile was found in the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash, according to a Ukrainian investigator that was formerly part of the international team researching the cause of the disaster. The revelation comes just one week before the Dutch Safety Board releases their final report on the July 2014 Boeing 777 crash in eastern Ukraine.

Vasyl Vovk worked on the case for nearly a year, up to June 19, the Joint Investigative Team confirmed to broadcaster NOS, but it criticized Vovk for not exercising caution with his statements.

He was among Dutch, Australian and Ukrainian experts that pulled apart multiple samples of Buk missiles to determine if the forensic evidence found with the plane wreckage and in the bodies matched the material used to make the weapons.

Vovk said the fragments were consistent with a match, and that they were handed over to specialised experts for comparative analysis.

“Nobody disputes that the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by a Buk missile from a Buk system, which was delivered from Russian Federation territory. And then after the crime, in that same territory, there was a block with the help of terrorist fighters,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian separatists.

Vovk did not directly say who shot the plane down, but he did say that he finds it hard to believe that soldiers would have launched the missile without any orders from higher authorities.

“The Russian Minister of Defense must have known about it,” he added.

The JIT does not deny the volume of evidence seemingly indicating that a Buk missile brought down the plane. “But however much is pointing in one direction, we can not exclude [researching] other scenarios,” the JIT wrote in a statement.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor previously revealed that there was evidence the plane was brought down by a Buk missile strike, and called on people in the Ukraine to come forward with any testimony or evidence about the launch.

Hundreds of people responded to the prosecutor’s request, the office said in April.

The plane was carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members when it left Amsterdam on July 17. It was flying over a conflict zone in Ukraine when it fell from the sky on its way to Kuala Lumpur, killing everyone on the aircraft.