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MH17 investigators appeal to Russians for help over missile

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By Euronews  with AP
The reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the Gilze-Rijen military airbase in the Netherlands.
The reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the Gilze-Rijen military airbase in the Netherlands.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool

The international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has appealed to Russian citizens for information.

People in the western city of Kursk have been urged to come forward with any information about the deployment of the missile that investigators say downed the plane.

Investigators said they are looking for "pictures, videos, relevant email messages or military orders".

The call for witnesses was made in an emotional video featuring the parents of one of the victims.

The announcement also comes days before the resumption of a trial of four people over the alleged shooting down of MH17.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was flying the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, to Kuala Lumpur when it was downed on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

The plane had been flying over conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, where government forces were battling Russian-backed pro-independence rebels.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian were charged with multiple murders for their alleged role in shooting down MH17.

None of the suspects has been extradited to the Netherlands to face justice and their trial started in March 2020 in their absence. Judicial proceedings are expected to continue on Monday and will last into next year.

Prosecutors say that the Buk missile and its launcher, known as a Telar, were trucked into Ukraine from the Russian 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile Brigade, which is based in Kursk. Russia has steadfastly denied involvement in downing the plane.

In a fresh appeal for information, investigators are hoping to bolster the case against the four suspects and establish who ordered the missile.

"Our investigation is already at a very advanced stage, but it is not yet complete," read an open letter to the citizens of Kursk.

"We would like to hear from everybody, also from the Russian soldiers, about what really has happened."

Vera Oreshkin, who lost her 29-year-old Australian son Victor, described him as a "gift from God" in the appeal video.

"This tragedy has blown a hole in my heart and it will never be filled, ever," Oreshkin said. "The truth must be established and made known to everybody."

"We would like to see somebody take the responsibility for what happened," added her husband, Serge, who was seen holding a framed photograph of their son.