TILBURG , Netherlands, June 7 (UPI) — Investigators in the Netherlands on Tuesday released the photo of a missile part discovered at the Ukrainian crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
A venturi tube, part of the Russian-designed Buk missile’s exhaust system, was found at the site in eastern Ukraine where the Boeing 777 crashed while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board the aircraft died.
Ukraine and Western countries have said a Buk missile was fired at the plane by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine; Russia says it was Ukrainian forces that fired the missile.
The plane crashed at the height of a conflict between Ukrainian and rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, and came down in rebel-controlled territory.
An interim report Tuesday was issued by a Joint Investigative Team, which is working in the Netherlands with a field office in Kiev. Comprised of experts from Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands, it has not yet specifically blamed any side for firing the missile, but is doing extensive research for upcoming criminal and civil trials.
The Dutch Safety Board, or OVV, did not assign blame at the time, though board President Djibbe Joustra said the area from which it was fired was rebel-held territory.
“The Dutch Safety Board concluded in October 2015 that the aircraft had crashed due to the impact with a Buk missile, which would suggest that the type of weapon has been clearly established. For the criminal investigation, the evidential standard is set much higher than for the OVV,” the report says.
The interim report is the first public look at evidence tying the plane’s crash to a missile strike. Some families of victims are suing Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.