Dutch seek BUK missile witnesses in MH17 crash probe

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch experts probing the MH17 plane crash in eastern Ukraine appealed Monday for witnesses who saw the transport or firing of a BUK surface-to-air missile around the time of the disaster.

"Investigators are looking at all scenarios. One of these scenarios is that the plane was shot down at 16:20 pm local time on July 17," the Dutch public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"Given this scenario, investigators are looking for witnesses who can tell more about the transport, crew and launch of a BUK rocket in the area in the days before and after the crash," it said.

All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner - the majority of them Dutch - died when it was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine last year.

The Netherlands has been charged with leading the investigation into the cause of the incident and identifying the dead.

Dutch authorities are also in charge of the criminal investigation into the crash, which took place amidst fierce fighting between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian separatists.

Kiev and the West have claimed that the Boeing 777 was shot down by the separatists, using a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charges, pointing the finger at Kiev.

Prosecutors stressed "this call for witnesses does not mean there is incontrovertible proof to what caused the crash." "It's too early to draw conclusions on the disaster," they added.

The request has been widely circulated via social media and news stations, along with a video in Russian with Dutch subtitles.

Earlier this month relatives of crash victims viewed parts of the wreckage brought back to the Netherlands, where it is being reconstructed as part of the probe.

Two of the 298 victims have yet to be identified.