Dutch prosecutors have accused Russia of trying to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in Ukraine in 2014, saying this has cast “a dark shadow” over the impending trial of four suspects.
Pre-trial hearings began in Amsterdam on Monday. Prosecutors say the defendants – three Russians and a Ukrainian – helped arrange the Russian missile system that shot down MH17, a civilian airliner. All 298 people on board were killed. Most of the passengers were Dutch nationals.
“The sum of all the facts casts a dark shadow over this investigation because there is strong indicative evidence that Russian government is keen to thwart the investigation,” the prosecutor Thijs Berger told the hearing, part of which focused on testimony by witnesses who have not yet been named.
“Several witnesses in this investigation have said that they fear for their lives if their identities would come to light,” he said on Tuesday. MH17 families fear they still face a long road to justice as trial begins
Read more Lawyers for one defendant protested against the prosecutor’s remarks about Russia and argued that witness intimidation should not be addressed in open hearings.
MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on 17 July 2014 when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Moscow rebels amid fighting in eastern Ukraine.
A team of international investigators in May 2018 concluded the missile launcher that shot down the aircraft belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.Russia denies any involvement. The […]