putin'Independent investigation confirms 298 civilian airline passengers killed by Russian missile

The results of an investigation by the Dutch Safety Board may lead to an international war crimes conviction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The probe confirms reports Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which crashed in Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 aboard, was downed by a Russian Buk missile.

The missile was fired by anti-Ukraine separatists armed by Putin.

USA Today reports:

The missile struck near the cockpit, instantly killing the two pilots and another crewmember while breaking off the front of the plane, the board said in its final report of the incident that killed all 298 on board. Some passengers may have remained conscious for up to a minute and a half before the Boeing 777 crashed into the ground, but they probably were not fully aware of what was happening amid the oxygen-starved chaos, the report said.

The Dutch Safety Board investigated the attack because most of the dead were from The Netherlands.

Three days before the attack, Ukraine had advised civilian aircraft to fly at least 32,000 feet after Putin-armed militants shot down a Ukrainian military cargo plane.

Russia blames Ukraine for the crash, saying Ukrainian airspace should have been closed to all civilian traffic, given the fact they were shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft.

Because of Ukraine’s geographic location, much of the world’s passenger aircraft travel through its airspace.

The results of the investigation could lead to an International Criminal Court trial of Putin.

“Downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane clearly falls within the ICC’s mandate,” David L. Phillips, Director of Peace-Building and Human Rights Program at Columbia University, tells CNBC.

Phillips lays out the case for Putin’s personal responsibility for the attack under international war crimes law:

  •  Putin conceived the plan to destabilize Ukraine in order to bring Ukraine into Russia’s zone of influence.
  • Russia’s intelligence agency GRU closely coordinates with pro-Russian forces in Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • The flow of arms from Russia to Ukrainian rebels has increased over the past month. It has continued since the downing of Malaysian Air 17.
  • Aerial photography shows the existence of a training ground for rebels in Southwest Russia, as wellas Russian-run training grounds for rebels near Russia’s border with Ukraine.
  • Voiceprint analysis, social media, and photographs confirm that a Russian BUK-M1 missile system downed the Malaysian Air passenger plane.
  • Russian technicians provided training on BUK, which is a sophisticated ballistic missile system. Ukraine’s intelligence chief maintains that a “Russian officer” pulled the trigger.
  • More than a dozen aircraft have been downed by separatists during the conflict.
  •  The BUK mobile launcher was spotted by local residents in Torez and Snizhne, and photographed. After shooting down the plane, the BUK system was quickly removed and brought back to Russia via the Rostov area.
  • International investigators were blocked from accessing the crash-site for five days after the attack, while Russian personnel pilfered personal items and tampered with evidence.

“The downing of Malaysian Air Flight 17 was an act of murder. There is no place to hide from universal jurisdiction when war crimes are involved,” says Phillips.

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed “consequences” for whomever was responsible for the attack.

The question now is, who will hold Putin accountable for mass murder and crimes against humanity?