BUK missile brought to Netherlands in MH17 investigation

Dutch soldiers picked up a BUK missile in Georgia early this year and brought it back to the Netherlands to use as evidence in the criminal investigation into the MH17 disaster, sources told RTL Nieuws. Employees of military intelligence service MIVD flew to Georgia on February 21st, and returned with the missile a day later. It was delivered to the Gilze-Rijen military airbase. 

The Netherlands and the four other countries in the Joint Investigation Team are preparing the criminal case against the perpetrators responsible for the downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine in July 2014. The team already has information about the BUK missile from tests with variants in Finland and Ukraine, Wim de Bruin of the Public Prosecution confirmed to RTL. But a legal aid application was also sent to Georgia based on advice from the Netherlands Forensic Institute to collect as much data as possible.

"For this reason, the Joint Investigation Team contacted several countries, including Finland, Ukraine and Georgia. In line with UN agreements, Georgia offered the requested legal assistance and made a BUK missile available early in 2017 for the criminal investigation", De Bruin said tot he broadcaster. 

"It is quite conceivable that the Public Prosecutor wants an answer to any conceivable scenario that the defense will soon give in a trial", international criminal justice expert Mischa Wladimiroff said to RTL Nieuws. "Therefore the JIT wants to have as much reference material as possible to anticipate it."

International criminal law professor Geert-Jan Knoops agrees. "If the Prosecutor announces the names of the people they hold responsible for the downing of MH17, there is no way back. Then you want 100 percent certainty. The defense will look into how strong the forensic/technical evidence is and the Public Prosecutor has to anticipate that."

Sources also told RTL Nieuws that the BUK missile was made available to the Ministry of Defense. Defense wants to gain insight into the missile's properties and operation in order to know to what extent it could threaten the new Joint Strike Fighter jets.