Dutch Investigative Journalist On MH17 Suspect Handed Over to Russia
10 September, 2019

Hromadske spoke to an MH17 case expert following the news that Ukraine exchanged the MH17 suspect Volodymyr Tsemakh as part of the “35-for-35” exchange that took place on September 7.

Robert van der Noordaa believes the reason the exchange kept being delayed was to allow interrogation by the Dutch investigators to happen, even on two occasions. At the same time, it is not known whether the Dutch government explicitly asked Kyiv not to release Tsemakh despite some media claiming that was the case. 

If the Netherlands were in such a position maybe they would do the same thing … it was an impossible choice here.

Commenting on whether the evidence obtained by Ukrainian officers could be used by the Netherlands in the court case, van der Noordaa points out that nonetheless the latter felt there was a need to hold separate interrogations. The expert argues this might be due to some legal nuances.

READ MORE: MH17 Suspect Tsemakh Was Questioned Prior to Exchange - Zelenskyy

Speaking of the potential extradition Amsterdam might request from Moscow, the journalist notes that Russia also agreed to help with the investigation. Despite the Russian Embassy in the Hague claiming they hadn’t received a request for extradition of Tsemakh, that does not mean it won’t happen in the future. 

Van der Noordaa believes that the Tsemakh issue should not affect the relations between Ukraine and the Netherlands. It seems that Ukraine could not get its prisoners back without releasing Tsemakh and that is understandable. 

[The exchange] seems to a lot of Ukrainian and Dutch people like bowing to Russia again.

But the expert recalls that there are four key suspects announced by the JIT and Tsemakh was not on the list. Thus he is not perhaps as valuable as many make him out to be, he reasons.

READ MORE: Is This MH17 Suspect the Reason Ukraine-Russia Prisoner Swap Stalled?

The journalist concludes by stressing that it’s not the Netherlands alone who wants justice - Ukraine wants it just as much because the delivery of the Buk missile system from Russian territory is the ideal proof that Russia is present in eastern Ukraine.