Suspect Arrested Over Attempted Assassination Of Chief Forensic Expert In MH17 Crash Investigation

Sally Elliott

Another small step towards closure in the tragic downing of MH17 was made yesterday when Ukrainian police announced that a suspect was arrested over the attempted assassination of the chief forensic expert in the MH17 crash investigation. When Ukraine's most senior forensic scientist, Oleksandr Ruvin, was shot in the leg last year, police linked the attack to Ruvin's role as the expert witness in the vast and extremely complicated investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The Boeing 777 was tragically shot down in July 2014 by Ukrainian separatists while traversing airspace over the war-torn country, killing all 298 passengers on board flight MH17, headed for Kuala Lumpur.

In a short statement about the arrest, the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office said that the suspect arrested was a man to whom their trail of evidence had led over the last year. The country's chief military prosecutor, Anatoliy Matios, said that a briefing would be held later on Monday to provide further details of the suspect arrested over the attempted assassination of the key forensic expert in the MH17 crash investigation.

As the key expert witness in the case against Ukrainian rebels, which relies heavily on the advice of forensic scientists to make progress, the attempted assassination of Ruvin was considered a clear bid to block any further evidence from emerging to bring a suspect to justice.

According to The Star, Dutch investigators were able to conclude that flight MH17 was downed by a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine in a statement of their findings in October last year. Unfortunately, the report did not offer precise details or name a suspect. The person who shot down MH17 has not been arrested, and no one has been held responsible for the deaths of 298 innocent people, most of them Dutch nationals.

The extensive, international legal proceedings to bring justice for those killed in the MH17 crash have faced obstacles at every turn. The mammoth effort to recover physical evidence from the crash site and call for new evidence has been lengthy and painful for the loved ones of MH17 victims, but both Dutch and Malaysian authorities fight relentlessly to have any suspect involved in the crash arrested.

Their efforts have not, however, been matched by Russian authorities, according to Astro Awani, who were quick to tout the Dutch investigation report "biased" and take action to hinder progress in finding a suspect and having them arrested.

"In July last year, Malaysia, backed by the other members of JIT, pushed for an international tribunal to try the culprits, but Russia used its veto power in the United Nations to block the setting up of such a body," said their report.

As such, the families and friends of those killed in the downing of MH17 are still tragically denied of closure by the lack of suspects found or arrested for shooting the missile that downed the Malaysia Airlines flight.

The fact that a suspect was arrested over the attempted assassination of the chief forensic expert in the MH17 crash investigation is a powerful, bittersweet reminder that forces now work both with and against investigators in finding the people responsible for downing MH17.

[Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images]