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Dutch Probe: Soviet-Made Surface-to-Air Buk Missile Downed Malaysian Jet in Ukraine

Also see [GRAPHIC PHOTOS] Live Updates: Passenger Jet Downed in Ukraine, Buk Missile Attack Suspected, 23 American Passengers Suspected Dead

The missile shot skyward from war-ravaged eastern Ukraine. With deadly accuracy more than six miles up, it detonated just in front of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner, sending hundreds of jagged steel shards ripping through its aluminum skin at up to 5,600 mph and shearing the cockpit from the rest of the plane.

“The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it.”

The two pilots and purser in the cockpit died instantly, and the Boeing 777 disintegrated and fell to earth, killing the rest of the 298 men, women and children aboard Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, Dutch investigators said Tuesday in a long-awaited report.

“The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.”

Some of the victims may have been conscious for 60 to 90 seconds, the Dutch Safety Board said, but they probably were not fully aware of what was happening in the oxygen-starved, freezing chaos. The tornado-like airflow surging through the doomed jet as it came apart was powerful enough to tear off people’s clothes and leave naked corpses amid the fields of sunflowers.

“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation.”

— Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra

The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it. It identified an area of 320 square kilometers (120 square miles) where it said the launch must have taken place, and 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.

The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.

debris-malaysian-plane

“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation,” Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra said in releasing the report at a military base in the southern Netherlands.

He spoke in front of the partially reassembled red, white and blue Malaysian jetliner, much of the left side of its mangled fuselage front riddled with shrapnel holes.

Russian officials were prompt to dismiss the Dutch report, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov calling it an obvious “attempt to make a biased conclusion, in essence to carry out a political order.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Buk’s manufacturer presented its own report trying to clear the separatists, and Russia itself, of any involvement.

[Read the full text here, at ABC News]

The Russian state-controlled consortium Almaz-Antey said it conducted experiments, including one in which a Buk missile was detonated near the nose of an airplane similar to a 777, and it contended they contradicted the conclusion that a Buk missile of the kind used by the Russians destroyed Flight 17. Almaz-Antey had earlier suggested that it could have been a model of Buk that is no longer in service with the Russian military but is part of Ukraine’s arsenal.

It said the experiments also rebutted claims the missile was fired from Snizhne, a village that was under rebel control. An Associated Press reporter saw a Buk missile system in that vicinity on the same day.

Despite the moves by Moscow, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands called on Russia to fully cooperate with a separate criminal investigation that Dutch prosecutors are conducting into the downing of the plane, in which 196 Dutch nationals died. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar Charged With Nine Counts of Sedition

trialof-anwar-Z

Zunar says he will ‘draw until the last drop of ink’

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A cartoonist known for lampooning Malaysia’s ruling coalition has been charged with nine counts of sedition over a series of tweets criticizing the country’s judiciary system.

On Friday, lawyer Latheefa Koya said the charges against Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, are excessive and are aimed at silencing government critics. She says Mr. Zunar faces up to 43 years in jail if found guilty on all nine charges.

The nine tweets criticizing the judiciary were posted Feb. 10 when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim began serving a five-year prison sentence after losing his final appeal on a sodomy charge.

Malaysian political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, played with fake handcuffs during his court case in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Malaysian political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, played with fake handcuffs during his court case in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

“The lackeys in black robes are proud of their sentence. The rewards from the political masters must be plenty,” said one of the tweets. “Today Malaysia is seen as a country without law,” said another.

Mr. Anwar’s arrest was seen by many at home and abroad as politically motivated to eliminate any threat to the ruling coalition, whose popularity has been eroding slowly since 2008 after more than five decades of dominance. Mr. Anwar and his three-member opposition alliance were seen as the most potent political threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s coalition. Read the rest of this entry »