Prosecutor offers protection to prospective MH17 witnesses

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Investigators in the Ukraine - MH17 (Picture: Ministry of Security and Justice)Investigators in the Ukraine - MH17 (Picture: Ministry of Security and Justice)

People with information about the downing of MH17 who are afraid to come forward, may be able to count on witness protection, Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said on Nieuwsuur on Wednesday. Should there be cause, witnesses could qualify for a new identity or lower sentences.

"People who come forward could be at risk. In the case that this is an issue, there are good opportunities to provide witness protection", he said, according to NU.nl. He pointed out that multiple countries are involved in the Joint Investigation Team performing the investigation into the disaster. "Australia has good possibilities for witness protection", he said as an example.

On Wednesday the JIT revealed their preliminary conclusions in the investigation into who downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. So far the team knows that MH17 was shot down with a BUK missile from a field controlled by pro-Russian separatists. They also know that the missile system was transported from Russia to the field, and then back again after the plane went down.

The JIT is looking at 100 persons of interest in the investigation into the perpetrators. These are all people who can be connected to the downing of the flight or to the transport of the missile system to and from the firing location.

All 298 people on board MH17 were killed when the plane was shot down. 196 of them were Dutch. After the press conference revealing the preliminary conclusions, Prime Minister Mark Rutte again expressed sympathies with the friends and families of the people killed in the disaster. “This investigation requires a lot from the relatives. Answers can not come soon enough. Patience is a gigantic task if sadness, disbelief and anger can pop up regularly. We do not forget that for a moment. We stand beside the relatives. And we continue to fight that the those responsible will not escape unpunished.”

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