German intelligence has accused pro-Russian rebels of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 using missiles captured from Ukrainian forces, a media report says.
Kiev and Western governments have previously claimed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was blown out of the sky in July by separatist fighters using a BUK surface-to-air system supplied by Russia, but Moscow denied the charge.
But the head of Germany’s BND foreign spy agency Gerhard Schindler said intelligence indicated the rebels had captured a BUK system from a Ukrainian base and fired a missile that exploded directly next to the plane, Spiegel magazine reported.
The Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight crashed on July 17 as it flew over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, including 38 Australian citizens or residents.
Schindler said Russian claims the missile was fired by Ukrainian soldiers and that a Ukrainian fighter jet was flying close to the Malaysia Airlines plane were false, according to Monday’s edition of Spiegel.
He also said Ukrainian photos had been “manipulated”, the magazine reported but did not elaborate on what the pictures showed, who had provided them or altered them.
Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic immediately rubbished the claim.
“These accusations against us are without any basis,” he told Russia’s Interfax news agency, adding that such missiles could “only be fired by well-trained experts.”
American intelligence officials had in July said that the plane could have been shot down mistakenly by ill-trained separatists.
Schindler presented his findings to parliament’s control committee overseeing German intelligence work on October 8.
An initial report by Dutch investigators issued last month found that the jet was hit by multiple “high-energy” objects but did not apportion blame.
– with AAP