The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, and a majority of the victims were Dutch citizens. The Dutch Safety Board, an investigating body, concluded in 2015 that a type of Russian missile known as a Buk had destroyed the Boeing 777.
The following year, the Joint Investigation Team, formed with prosecutors from Austria, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, traced the missile launcher’s route from Russia to Ukraine and back. It said then that it had narrowed a pool of suspects to about 100 people.
Announcing interim findings on Thursday in the Netherlands, Wilbert Paulissen, a criminal investigator with the country’s national police, said the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade had provided the missile launcher.
He said investigators had not determined whether soldiers from this unit had also operated the system in Ukraine, or if it had been operated by Ukrainian separatists. But he said that the pool of suspects had now been narrowed to a few dozen people.
The Joint Investigation Team began its work after Russia vetoed a Dutch proposal to form a United Nations tribunal to study the disaster and punish those responsible.