Russia appeals to UN aviation body to open new MH17 probe

Created: 10/14/2015 5:52 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organization to open a new probe into last year's downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, the chief of the Russian aviation agency said Wednesday.

The Boeing 777 crashed on July 17, 2014, in the middle of a military conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

The Dutch Safety Board said in its final report released on Tuesday that the jet was destroyed by a Soviet-made Buk surface-to-air missile. Two-thirds of the 298 people who died were Dutch.

The 15-month probe did not explicitly say who had fired the missile, but it identified an area of 320 square kilometers (120 square miles) from where it said the launch must have taken place. All of the land was in the hands of pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian forces at the time of the disaster, according to daily maps of fighting released by the Ukrainian National Security Council.

Russia and the rebels insist that if the plane was destroyed by a missile, it must have been fired by the Ukrainian military.

"The Russian commission categorically disagrees with the conclusions of the final report. They are fundamentally wrong, the lack of logic there is beyond comparison," Oleg Storchevoi, deputy chief of the Russian Aviation Agency, said in a televised news conference on Wednesday. "I had a feeling that the commission was cherry-picking the evidence to suit a theory they had chosen."

Storchevoi said Russia "will use its right" to continue the probe and has already appealed to the U.N.'s civil aviation agency to intervene.

Storchevoi hinted that Russia believes that some of the evidence has been faked. He accused the Dutch of "hiding important data" from Russia, calling into question the authenticity of the shrapnel and pieces of the missile reportedly found in the wreckage.

Speaking in Donetsk, rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko denied any involvement in the crash.

"We have said before and we still say that we did not shoot down the plane," he said.


Mstyslav Chernov in Donetsk, Ukraine, and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)