Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dutch prosecutors say Russia tried out to thwart investigation of MH17 downing

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of seeking to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight seventeen in Ukraine in 2014, declaring this solid “a darkish shadow” more than the impending demo of four suspects in the crash.

Judges show up at the felony trial against 4 suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Pre-trial hearings began in Amsterdam on Monday. Prosecutors say the defendants – 3 Russians and a Ukrainian – served arrange the Russian missile method utilized to shoot down MH17, a civilian plane.

All 298 men and women on board ended up killed. Most of the travellers were being Dutch nationals.

“The sum of all the facts casts a darkish shadow more than this investigation for the reason that there is sturdy indicative proof that Russian govt is keen to thwart the investigation,” prosecutor Thijs Berger advised the hearing, element of which targeted on testimony by witnesses who have not however been named.

“Several witnesses in this investigation have claimed that they anxiety for their lives if their identities would occur to gentle.”

Legal professionals for 1 defendant protested at the prosecutor’s remarks about Russia, and argued that witness intimidation should not be tackled in open up hearings.

MH17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by professional-Moscow rebels amid preventing in japanese Ukraine.

A group of worldwide investigators in May 2018 concluded the missile launcher which shot down the aircraft belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

Russia denies any involvement.

The defendants – Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko – held senior posts in pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine in 2014, in accordance to prosecutors.

The 4 facial area preliminary rates of the murder of 298 individuals and of resulting in the plane to crash. The suspects are thought to be in Russia and are not envisioned to show up at.

On Monday, judges made a decision the trial would keep on with the suspects absent.

Only Pulatov has appointed defense legal professionals. Defence law firm Sabine ten Doesschate explained to the court docket on Tuesday that her consumer “has very little by any means to do” with the plane’s downing.

She said Pulatov has not decided irrespective of whether he may possibly give the court docket a statement.

International locations taking part in the investigation – Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia and Belgium – agreed in 2017 to keep trials in the Netherlands below Dutch regulation following tries to established up a U.N.-backed tribunal foundered more than Russian opposition.

The Netherlands and Australia have claimed they maintain Russia dependable for the crash.

A 2nd defense lawyer, Boudewijn van Eijck, criticized the prosecutor’s statements about Russia as “sailing a tiny far too shut to the wind.” He explained that probable protection witnesses could be influenced by such comments about intimidation.

“We regret that this has been talked over publicly,” he stated.

Van Eijck also questioned prosecution accusations that Russia experienced mounted a disinformation campaign about the crash and experimented with to undermine the investigation.

“The Russian Federation has cooperated in the launch of judicial files,” Van Eijck explained. “Everything that was requested of the Russian Federation…was sent.”

Prosecutors claimed a person witness experienced currently been presented security. He was described as M58, a Russian national who had volunteered to be part of Ukrainian rebels.

Prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi said M58’s statement was that he had been close to the internet site of the missile launcher at the time the deadly missile was introduced, assigned to assistance guard it. She mentioned the witness gave evidence that Russian armed forces staff and separatists at the scene ended up “initially pleased” as they had been advised shot they had down a armed service transportation plane.

“However, when the initially men and women returned from the crash web-site they reported it was a civilian aircraft,” Woei-a-Tsoi claimed, talking about M58’s videotaped testimony.

Reporting by Toby Sterling, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Angus MacSwan

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