Netherlands: Prosecutors explain some findings of MH17 investigationJune 19, 2019 at 15:33 (GMT) · Published
Prosecutors in Nieuwegein explained some of the rationale behind the charges made against four suspects for the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, during a press conference on Wednesday.
"What, based on the findings of the investigation, we can disclose is the following: suspects Girkin, Dubinskiy, Pulatov and Kharchenko were active in the armed conflict in the Donetsk province in July 2014," said Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke. "Their come and go in this period was to gain ground at the expense of the Ukrainian state and its armed forces. During this battles, anti-aircraft defence was used."
Westerbeke emphasised that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) would not further elaborate on all the available evidence outside of court.
The charges stem from a Dutch-led international investigation which has concluded that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile, reportedly on the basis of communications intercepts provided by Ukrainian intelligence services.
Russia has denied all accusations that it was involved in the crash, which resulted in the deaths of all 298 people on board, and has stated that while the Buk missile used to down the Boeing 777 was manufactured in Moscow in 1986, it was subsequently delivered to the Ukrainian Army and never returned.
In a written statement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MFA) dismissed the JIT's charges on alleged involvement of Russian servicemen in the MH17 crash and said the investigation was based on unfounded accusations and not facts. Moscow also voiced concern over JIT's bias, based solely on what it claimed was forged evidence by Ukraine. Russia pledged its own resources to find the truth about the MH17 downing.
International arrest warrants have been issued for the three accused Russian military officers, Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin, and Sergey Dubinskiy, as well as for Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko.
Girkin was serving as Minister of Defence of the Donetsk People's Republic at the time with the other three men all working under him.
The Defence Ministry of the Donetsk People's Republic has denied the allegations that it was involved in the MH17 crash.
A prospective trial date of March 2020 was set by investigators.
Russia does not form part of the JIT, which is made up of police and criminal justice authorities from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.