March 8, 2016
BUNNIK, Netherlands (AFP) - The Netherlands has received "all available information from the United States" for the inquiry into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine nearly two years ago, the chief investigator said Monday.
The announcement came after a meeting between investigators and relatives of the victims who were concerned about the progress of the probe after allegations that Washington was not sharing all its information.
"Regarding the debate which still exists over the sharing of information from the United States: all information which is available and which is of interest for the investigation has been shared," said Fred Westerbeke, chief investigator in the criminal investigation.
About 200 relatives of the victims attended the meeting, "but we could not tell them much without jeopardising the investigation," added Westerbeke, who is working with investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.
He reiterated that they expected this summer to determine the exact location where the missile which downed the Boeing 777 was fired from and the precise model used.
All 298 passengers and crew -- the majority of them Dutch -- died when the plane was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
An international investigation into the cause of the crash, coordinated by the Dutch Safety Board, in October found the plane had been downed by a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile from an area held by pro-Russian separatists, but did not give precise details nor definitively say who was responsible.
The separate criminal investigation coordinated by Westerbeke is to identify those responsible, although many experts doubt the perpetrators will ever be arrested and prosecuted.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called for patience in early March after criticism from MPs frustrated over the slow pace of the investigation.
Kiev and Washington say the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow. The Kremlin denies the accusations and accuses Ukrainian forces of downing the plane.