MH17 plane downing: New suspects named by investigators as charges loom

A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove in Donetsk region Ukraine

MH17 investigators 'will name four suspects including Russian officers' today

The four are accused of bringing the Buk surface-to-air missile system from Russian Federation into Ukraine, although they are not specifically charged with firing the missiles at the plane itself.

Dubinsky was expelled from the area held by the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region after being accused of financial fraud and is thought to have returned to Russia's Rostov region.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said it regretted the findings of the MH17 crash investigation and called the murder charges against Russian suspects groundless.

In the weeks and days leading up to the shoot-down, investigators said, Girkin appealed to Russian officials in Crimea and Moscow for heavy weapons to stop Ukrainian forces from recapturing territory.

The airliner travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur was torn apart in mid-air after being hit by a missile over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists on July 17, 2014, investigators say.

The investigators provided photographic evidence that the Russian military moved the missile systems across the Ukrainian border.

Flowers outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev after the disaster.

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The team said that even if the four may not have pushed the button itself to launch a Buk missile that downed the plane, they were implicated in the preparations of the launch, making it sufficient to charge them.

In eastern Ukraine in 2014, he was subordinate to Dubinsky in the Donetsk-based separatists' military intelligence.

Piet Ploeg, president of a Dutch victims' association who lost three family members on MH17, told AFP that it was "very important news".

Girkin is now residing in Moscow, where he has made infrequent appearances since leaving eastern Ukraine in August 2014.

The Dutch-led global team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane's destruction named the four suspects as Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

Girkin led a group of Russian men who crossed into Ukraine and occupied the town of Slovyansk, which became the site of major fighting.

While Leonid Kharchenko was the Ukrainian commander of separatist rebels in the country's east. He later deleted that post.

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On Wednesday, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - which includes Australia - named four men who are accused of providing and firing the missile that took down the plane in July 2014. The men could get life in prison if convicted.

All four suspects are charged with "causing the crash of MH17, leading to the death of all the people on board ... and murdering 298 passengers of flight MH17", Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke announced.

The JIT a year ago found that the Buk M98 missile that was used had allegedly come from Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade based in Kursk and had crossed into Ukraine in the days ahead of the shooting down.

The families of those killed were informed of the trial date early Wednesday at a closed-doors meeting ahead of a news conference by investigators.

Borodai today denied discussing military support with Surkov, calling the recording a fake.

Asked if she expected the suspects to attend the trial, Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the plane, said: "No, I don't think so".

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