JIT: About 100 persons of interest in MH17 downing

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The Joint Investigation Team is looking at around 100 suspects in the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said in a press conference on Wednesday, according to NU.nl's live blog on the event. 

These 100 people can be connected with the downing of the Malaysia Airline flight or with the transport of the BUK missile system from Russia to an agricultural field Pervomajsk, from where the plane was shot down. According to Westerbeke, head of the criminal investigation into the downing, the identities of these suspects are known, though they may not all end up being official suspects.

The JIT is specifically looking for those who gave the order to transport the BUK missile system from Russia to the Ukraine and for those who fired the fatal missile. "It is important to the JIT to get more insight into the role those involved played. We therefore call on witnesses to come forward."

Westerbeke concluded that he does not know when the investigation into the perpetrators behind the attack on MH17 will come to a conclusion. The JIT team has been extended to early 2018 to continue the investigation. "We are convinced that we will succeed in finding those responsible", the Dutch prosecutor said.

Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board were killed, including 196 Dutch. At this same press conference it was revealed that the plane was shot down by a missile brought from Russia to the Ukraine and then back to Russia after the attack. The missile was fired from agricultural field Pervomajsk, near Snizhne. This field was controlled by pro-Russian separatists at the time.

According to Westerbeke, at this stage the JIT can go no further than saying this is how MH17 was shot down and will therefore make no comment on the involvement of Russia or Russian persons.