Tag Archives: MH17

MH17 trial moves to crucial merits phase, examining evidence


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Lawyer: 290 relatives file for compensation in MH-17 downing


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Ukraine releases 'key MH17 suspect' ahead of expected prisoner swap with Russia

Ukraine releases 'key MH17 suspect' ahead of expected prisoner swap with RussiaA Kiev court has released a “key suspect” in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 shortly before Vladimir Putin said prisoner swap negotiations with Ukraine were in their final stages, raising fears among European politicians that the man will be sent to Russia. That would put him out of the reach of international investigators, as Russia doesn't typically extradite its citizens.  Vladimir Tsemakh, a former fighter for Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine who was captured and smuggled across the frontlines in June, was released from custody on his own recognisance on Thursday. He is slated to go on trial for terrorism in October but has not been fitted with an electronic tag.  Ukrainian nationalists later protested with road flares outside the court, calling it a “terrorist accomplice” and “branch of the FSB”. Mr Tsemakh reportedly commanded anti-aircraft defences in the town of Snizhne when a Buk missile fired from the area brought down MH17 in July 2014, killing 298, including 10 Britons.  The Dutch-led joint investigative team has said the Russian military deployed the Buk launcher to eastern Ukraine, findings denied by Moscow, and charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with murder in June. Court proceedings are scheduled for March. Nationalists protest outside the court after Mr Tsemakh was released Credit: Sergii Kharchenko/EPA-EFE/REX Discussing the downing of MH17 in a 2015 Russian nationalist video interview, Mr Tsemakh said that he “got that guy out” and “hid” something. Although the exact word was bleeped out, many believe that he was saying he had hid the “Buk” after the plane was shot down.  Rumours began appearing in recent weeks that Mr Tsemakh could be included in the prisoner exchange that Moscow and Kiev have been negotiating since Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy called Mr Putin in July. A Russian newspaper quoted sources on Thursday as saying that Moscow demanded Mr Tsemakh in exchange for freeing Crimean director and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Oleg Sentsov. If true, that would be an unusual level of interest by Moscow in the fate of a foreign national, as Mr Tsemakh is a Ukrainian citizen, and suggest it does not want him to be questioned. In a letter to Mr Zelenskiy on Wednesday, 40 MEPs including Catherine Rowett of the United Kingdom opposed Russia's alleged requests to trade for Mr Tsemakh, calling him a “key suspect” in the MH17 investigation who should testify in the case. Dutch chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said in a leaked letter to his Ukrainian counterparts last week that Mr Tsemakh's status as a suspect meant that “keeping him available for (further) questioning by the joint investigation team is therefore of the utmost importance”.  A spokeswoman for the team told media on Thursday that it wanted him to remain in Ukraine, as it would be difficult to question him if he was sent to Russia. Vladimir Putin speaks at a forum in Vladivostok on Thursday Credit: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg The Ukrainian prosecutor general's office also objected to the release of Mr Tsemakh, whom it called “an important element of truth-seeking in this case”. Mr Putin breathed new life into the prisoner exchange process on Thursday when he said at the eastern economic forum in Vladivostok that a “fairly large” swap was close to being agreed.  “We're approaching the finalisation of the negotiations that we are holding with the official authorities, among others,” he said. “I think this will become known in the near future.” Ukrainian officials had said the trade of 33 prisoners from each side would happen last Friday, only to have Moscow dismiss this.  Among others, Kiev is hoping to bring home 24 sailors captured when their three navy vessels were seized in November trying to pass through the Kerch strait, which since the annexation of Crimea has been controlled by Russia.  Several Ukrainian prisoners in Russia have been moved from far-flung prison colonies to Moscow in recent weeks. Mr Tsemakh's dramatic seizure in separatist territory by a grab team of Ukrainian agents who reportedly drugged him and smuggled him across the de facto border in a wheelchair was the first of its kind. Some 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014.



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Malaysia: 'No proof' of Russian involvement in MH17 downing

Malaysia: 'No proof' of Russian involvement in MH17 downingMalaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday rejected the implication that Russia may have been involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, after international prosecutors charged with murder four men — three of them Russians with military or intelligence backgrounds — in the 2014 missile attack that killed all 298 people aboard. Mahathir said he doesn’t think the findings of the international investigative team “is true at all” as it was based on hearsay. “We are very unhappy because from the very beginning, it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing,” he told reporters.



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Pompeo ups pressure on Russia over four MH17 accused

Pompeo ups pressure on Russia over four MH17 accusedMoscow must ensure that those charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 face justice, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, after international investigators accused three Russians and a Ukrainian over the disaster. The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals. The Dutch-led inquiry team on Wednesday said international arrest warrants had been issued for Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, all of whom are suspected of roles in the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic.



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Malaysian PM says Russia being made a scapegoat for downing of flight MH17

Malaysian PM says Russia being made a scapegoat for downing of flight MH17Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday Russia is being made a scapegoat for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and questioned the objectivity of the investigations into the 2014 disaster. The international investigative team set up to look into the crash said on Wednesday three Russians and one Ukrainian will face murder charges for the deaths of 298 people aboard the flight that was shot down over eastern Ukraine. “We are very unhappy, because from the very beginning it was a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing,” Mahathir told reporters at a government event.



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Dutch investigators to charge four suspects with murder over downing of MH17

Dutch investigators to charge four suspects with murder over downing of MH17Four men with links to the Russian military have been charged with murdering nearly 300 people on board an airliner shot down over Ukraine. Dutch investigators issued international arrest warrants for Russians Igor "Strelkov" Girkin, Oleg Pulatov, and Sergic Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. The men are accused of procuring and organising the deployment of the Russian missile launcher that shot down flight MH17 in 2014. Announcing the charges on Wednesday, Fred Westerbeke, the Netherlands’ chief prosecutor, condemned the Kremlin for trying to obstruct the investigation. "We have the proof that the Russian Federation was involved in this tragedy one way or another," he said. "Russia has not provided any information…and that is a slap in the face of all of the relatives of the bereaved," he said. Former FSB officer Igor "Strelkov" Girkin was the top separatist commander when MH17 was shot down Credit:  MAXIM ZMEYEV/REUTERS All 298 people on board flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when it was blown out of the sky by a Russian-made Buk missile on July 17, 2014. About two thirds of the victims were Dutch. Ten Britons were also killed. It was the bloodiest single day in the war between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatist forces which has killed more than 10,000 people over the past five years. An image showing the Russian Buk missile launcher that shot down MH17 moving through separatist held territory before the incident.  Credit: Universal News & Sport (Europe) Russia has always denied involvement. But Australia and the Netherlands said last year that they hold Russia legally responsible for the shootdown and have said they will seek reparations. The Dutch-led joint investigation team, which also includes Australian, Malaysian, Belgian and Ukrainian investigators, said the men named on Wednesday were instrumental in bringing the Buk 9M38  missile involved into Ukraine from Russia. All were senior members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), a separatist movement largely funded and directed from Moscow. Mr Girkin, a former officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service, was the DNR’s “minister of defence” and top military commander at the time. Investigators painstakingly reconstructed the nose of MH17 to analyse the missile damage Credit: Dutch Safety Board Mr Dubinsky, Mr Pulatov, and Mr Kharchenko ran the DNR's military intelligence service, which is believed to have controlled and escorted the Russian BUK missile launcher on the day of the downing. Investigators say Mr Pulatov and Mr Dubinsky are serving or former members of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. Mr Westerbeke said he was “realistic” about the prospects of bringing the suspects, who currently reside in Russia and separatist-held parts of Ukraine, to trial. But he added that investigations into the chain of command would continue, and that detectives are anxious to speak to soldiers from the 3rd battalion of Russia’s 53rd air defence brigade, which they believe provided the weapon and the crew. A separatist fighter stands on wreckage of the airliner near the village of Grabovo in July 2014 Credit: MAXIM ZMEYEV/Reuters He declined to say how far up the Russian chain of command the investigation could lead. But part of the evidence presented on Wednesday was an intercepted telephone conversation in which Alexander Borodai, DNR’s “prime minister,” asks Vladislav Surkov, an influential advisor to Vladimir Putin, for military reinforcements. Silene Fredriksz, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the disaster, said she was “satisfied” with the announcement. "There is a court case on March 9 2020 against four people for murder," she told reporters after family members were briefed on the charges. "I am happy that the trial is finally going to start and that the names have been announced. It's a start.” The Kremlin said it had no reason to trust the investigation and that its position on the incident has not changed. "Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite expressing an interest right from the start and trying to join it,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin. The Russian foreign ministry called the findings "absolutely unfounded accusations aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation in the eyes of the international community." Mr Girkin, who has fallen out of favour with the Kremlin since 2014, said in a statement: "I can only say that militia did not shoot down the Boeing." The man who answered a phone number previously listed for Sergei Dubinsky said he did not know him. Emails to addresses linked to Mr Dubinsky and Mr Pulatov did not immediately receive a response. Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said:  “The Russian Federation must now cooperate fully with the prosecution and provide any assistance it requests in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2166. “The charges brought against these individuals today show that the international community stands together against the impunity of those responsible for the despicable murder of 298 innocent people.”



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MH17: from crash to disputed conclusion

MH17: from crash to disputed conclusionInternational investigators this week concluded that a Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in war-torn Ukraine in 2014 had been struck by a missile that came from a Russian military brigade. On July 17, 2014 the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 — en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur — crashes in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region where pro-Russian separatist rebels are battling Ukraine forces.



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Dutch, Australia name Russia as behind MH17 downing

Dutch, Australia name Russia as behind MH17 downingThe Netherlands and Australia on Friday took the first step towards dragging Russia to court over the shooting down of flight MH17, accusing Moscow of being responsible for the disaster over war-torn eastern Ukraine in 2014. The move won swift support from international allies, a day after investigators concluded that the Russian-made BUK missile which tore apart the Boeing 777 passenger plane in mid-air on July 17, 2014 came from a Russian military brigade based in southwestern Kursk. “There is but one conclusion to be made from yesterday’s presentation, namely that Russia is thoroughly responsible for the deployment of this BUK system,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters.



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Netherlands, Australia hold Russia liable for downing MH17

Netherlands, Australia hold Russia liable for downing MH17THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A day after international prosecutors said they had unequivocal evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine nearly four years ago, the Netherlands and Australia on Friday announced they were holding Moscow legally responsible for its role in the missile attack.



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