TBILISI, Georgia --- The Dutch military has received from Georgia an actual Buk anti-aircraft missile system to use in the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) downing, Dutch television news service RTL Nieuws reports.
According to the report, on February 21, employees of the Dutch military intelligence and security service flew to Georgia on a Hercules cargo aircraft belonging to the Ministry of Defence.
In Georgia, they were handed over a Buk missile by local authorities. The next day the plane returned and delivered the missile to the Gilze-Rijen military air base.
The Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the report today, saying that the Dutch side asked Georgia for legal assistance on January 27. Georgia agreed to help and handed over a Buk missile to the Netherlands in February.
A representative of the Dutch prosecutor's office also confirmed the report, saying that the Netherlands had made a legal aid application to Georgia after consulting the Dutch Forensic Institute to collect as much data as possible.
"For this reason, the Joint Investigative Group (JIT) has contacted several countries, including Finland, Ukraine and Georgia. In line with UN Resolution 2166, Georgia provided the required legal aid, and in early 2017 the Buk missile became available to the criminal investigation", he said.
The Dutch TV channel, referring to its own sources, also said that the Buk missile has also been made available to the Dutch Ministry of Defence, which seeks to gain insight into the rocket’s features. The Ministry wants to know to what extent the missile can pose a threat to the new JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft.
The edition noted that this is not the first Buk missile used by the Netherlands in the investigation of the MH17 crash. Previously, tests were conducted in Finland, where the explosive power of the missile was tested.
Malaysia Airlines' MH17 Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over militant-occupied territory in Donetsk region.
All 298 people on board who were citizens of 10 countries were killed in the crash. The majority of the victims, 196, were citizens of the Netherlands.
The Dutch Safety Board on October 13, 2015 issued a report on the causes of the accident. It was revealed that the plane had been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile system. The Joint Investigation Team in its report published on September 28, 2016, confirmed that the plane had been downed by a Russian-made Buk brought to Ukraine from Russia.
Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said his office had identified 100 "persons of interest” in the investigation, including those who organised and oversaw the transportation of the launcher from Russia to Ukraine and back.