80 investigators assigned to bring MH17 perpetrators to justice

A team of 80 police officers are assigned to the criminal investigation into the MH17 disaster. They are working from both the Netherlands and Ukraine, according to Wilbert Paulissen, head of the national detectives, news wire ANP reports.

Paulissen spoke to relatives of the MH17 victims in a specially organized meeting in Bunnik on Monday. "That really is a lot. In a large investigation, there are usually 15 to 20 people involved. This is a club with a big commitment", he said.

Chief prosecutor Fred Westereke, the leader of the investigation, also spoke to the relatives. He expressed how frustrating it is that they cannot share much information "while we are working with so much". "We can't share some information, because that could jeopardize the investigation. We don't want to give information away that can help the perpetrators."

The investigators believe that they will be able to disclose more information about what exact missile shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight and from where it was fired before the second half of this year. The Dutch Safety Board already concluded that it was a BUK missile system fired from within an area of 240 square kilometers, in their report on the disaster.

In the past period the police officers spent a lot of time getting more information on the missile systems. According to Paulissen, that information will be important in finding who is to blame. "Did one person operate it, or was it several people? Can it differentiate between a passenger and a military plane? That's all relevant information for the eventual prosecution of the perpetrators."

Westerbeke stated that he is confident the perpetrators behind the disaster, which killed all 298 people on board the flight on July 17th, 2014, will be found and prosecuted. Afterwards he told BNR that the most important message he wanted to convey was that "we are still working with all our might on the investigation."

Pascal Pelikaan, who lost his aunt, uncle and cousins in the disaster, left the meeting feeling reassured, he said tot he broadcaster. "I gained some clarity on why it is taking so long and why we are getting few answers. They simply want to make absolutely no mistakes. I understand the entire investigation a little bit more", he said. "I also got some patience. It is a time consuming process involving several countries, and therefore different rules must also be taken into account."