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US News Dutch prosecutors: Russia wants to thwart MH17 investigation

05:05  11 march  2020
05:05  11 march  2020 Source:   bostonglobe.com

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A Dutch prosecutor says there are “strong indications” that Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 and told judges at the trial of four suspects that many witnesses fear for their safety.

A Dutch prosecutor said Tuesday that there are “strong indications” Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 Prosecutor Thijs Berger made the statement on the second day of the trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with the murder of all 298

(Video by ABC News AU)

SCHIPHOL, Netherlands — A Dutch prosecutor said Tuesday that there are “strong indications” Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 and told judges at the trial of four suspects that many witnesses fear for their safety.

Prosecutor Thijs Berger made the statement on the second day of the trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with the murder of all 298 passengers and crew killed when a missile shot down the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight on July 17, 2014. The suspects weren’t present.

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of trying to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Prosecutors say the defendants - three Russians and a Ukrainian - helped arrange the Russian missile system used to shoot down MH 17 , a civilian aircraft.

Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of trying to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Judges attend the criminal trial against four suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 , in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands March 10, 2020.

Prosecutors allege that a Russian Buk missile shot down the flight from an agricultural field in a region of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Moscow rebel forces. Russia denies any involvement in the downing.

Judges attend the criminal trial against four suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw © Thomson Reuters Judges attend the criminal trial against four suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Prosecutors revealed that one witness in their case is a Russian volunteer with a separatist rebel group who was close to a crossroads in eastern Ukraine near where a Buk missile was fired on the day flight MH17 was downed.

The witness, identified only as M58, said that people present at the launch site were “initially pleased because they were told that a military transport plane had been shot down. However, when the first people returned from the crash site they said that it was a civilian aircraft,’’ prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi said.

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SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch prosecutor said Tuesday that there are “strong indications” Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 and told judges at the trial of four suspects that many witnesses fear for their safety. Prosecutor Thijs Berger made the

SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch prosecutor said Tuesday that there are “strong indications” Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 and told judges at the trial of four suspects that many witnesses fear for their safety. Prosecutor Thijs Berger made the

Berger told judges that there was evidence Russian intelligence agents attempted to hack into the computers of Malaysian and Dutch investigations into the downing of MH17.

FILE - In this July 22, 2014 file photo, a pro-Russian rebel touches the MH17 wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Three Russians and a Ukrainian went on trial Monday. March 9, 2020 in the Netherlands, charged with multiple counts of murder for their alleged involvement in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people aboard. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File) © ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE - In this July 22, 2014 file photo, a pro-Russian rebel touches the MH17 wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Three Russians and a Ukrainian went on trial Monday. March 9, 2020 in the Netherlands, charged with multiple counts of murder for their alleged involvement in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people aboard. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

“This information casts a dark shadow over these proceedings,” he said. “There are strong indications that the Russian government is very keen to thwart this investigation and that it is not averse to deploying the Russian security services to this end. These Russian security services have been accused of multiple murders in recent years committed in various European countries.’’

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Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of trying to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine in 2014, saying this cast “a dark shadow” over the impending trial of four suspects in the crash.

SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch prosecutor said Tuesday that there are “strong indications” Russia wants to undermine investigations into the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 and told judges at the trial of four suspects that many witnesses fear for their safety.

Woei-a-Tsoi, told judges that “every effort will have to be made to hear witnesses safely.”

Prosecutors said Russian interference didn’t stop there and accused Moscow of attempting to hide the truth about what happened.

Toys are placed near the cross in memory of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash in the village of Rozsypne in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko © Thomson Reuters Toys are placed near the cross in memory of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash in the village of Rozsypne in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

“The fate of flight MH17 has become known as a textbook example of a disinformation campaign by the Russian government,” Woei-a-Tsoi said. “It is clear we have not yet seen the end of it.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined comment on the trial, saying that Russia had not been involved in the international investigation.

Two days of hearings this week took stock of progress in the international investigation. The examination of evidence — likely including a visit to the wreckage of the plane that was pieced together in a hangar on a Dutch military base — could start later this year, or in 2021.

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The case was adjourned Tuesday until March 23.

After years of investigations, an international team of investigators and prosecutors last year named four suspects: Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. More suspects could face charges as the investigations continue.

None are attending the trial. Only Pulatov has Dutch lawyers representing him in court.

The sky is reflected in the national MH17 monument which carries the names of the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Vijfhuizen, Netherlands, Friday, March 6, 2020. A missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine in 2014, tore the MH17 passenger jet apart killing all 298 people on board. United by grief across oceans and continents, families who lost loved hope that next week's trial will finally deliver them something that has remained elusive ever since: The truth. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) © ASSOCIATED PRESS The sky is reflected in the national MH17 monument which carries the names of the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Vijfhuizen, Netherlands, Friday, March 6, 2020. A missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine in 2014, tore the MH17 passenger jet apart killing all 298 people on board. United by grief across oceans and continents, families who lost loved hope that next week's trial will finally deliver them something that has remained elusive ever since: The truth. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Pulatov’s lawyer Boudewijn van Eijck challenged the assertion that Russia could not be trusted.

“Now, if all that were to be true . . . I wonder why the Dutch authorities at the same time when it fits them ask for the cooperation of the Russian Federation,” he said.

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About 20 family members were present in the courtroom for Tuesday’s hearings and more followed the case at a conference center near the central city of Utrecht via a video link.

A protest sign stands next to rows of empty chairs, lined up by family members of victims of the MH17 crash line for each seat on the plane, during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands March 8, 2020.  REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw © Thomson Reuters A protest sign stands next to rows of empty chairs, lined up by family members of victims of the MH17 crash line for each seat on the plane, during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands March 8, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Bryan and Lisa Clancy flew from Australia to be present. Bryan lost his brother and sister-in-law in the downing of MH17.

“We’ve come here to try and make sure that justice is going to be followed and that the truth comes out as to what actually happened,” Bryan said.

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