Kyiv Court of Appeal Releases MH17 Suspect
5 September, 2019

On September 5, the Kyiv Court of Appeal ruled that Volodymyr Tsemakh, a mercenary hired by Russia-backed militants who is suspected of involvement in the downing of the Malaysian Boeing MH17 over Donbas in July 2014, should be released from custody on personal recognizance.

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

Tsemakh's lawyer Roman Hontariev said this in a comment to Hromadske.

​In response to the question of whether this has something to do with Tsemakh being on the list of prisoners up for an exchange with Russia, and whether Tsemakh would be going anywhere, the lawyer said: “Nobody told me anything about the exchange. I do not know if he is going to go somewhere - he has an obligation to appear in courts."

UPDATE: Later, prosecutor Oleh Peresada told Hromadske that Tsemakh would return to the territory not controlled by Ukraine, as per his official registration. The prosecutor was unable to comment on the information that Tsemakh would be exchanged with Russia calling the issue "political".

READ MORE: The Netherlands Wants to Question Ukraine's MH17 Suspect

Earlier, from a number of unofficial sources, information emerged that prisoners were not exchanged between Russia and Ukraine because of Moscow's request to add Tsemakh to the list. In particular, Deputy Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Ilm Umerov and several journalists said this. The founder of Bellingcat Volunteer Investigations Group, Eliot Higgins, also expressed fear that Ukraine might give Russia a "key witness" in the MH17 case. However, no one officially confirms this information.

Law enforcement in the Netherlands stated that they wanted to question Tsemakh, and MEPs called on Volodymyr Zelenskyy not to give him over to Russia. The gunman may be a witness or suspect in the MH17 crash case. In Ukraine, standard charges for militants were brought forward against Tsemakh in this case officially - "participation in a terrorist organization", Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code.

READ MORE: JIT Indicts 4 for MH17 Downing, Bellingcat Names More Possible Suspects

The detention at the end of June 2019 by the Security Service of Ukraine Volodymyr Tsemakh was reported by the Russian Air Force with reference to the daughter and lawyer of the detainee. The militant was allegedly captured in the occupied Snizhne and smuggled to government-controlled territory.

In an interview with Tsemakh in 2015, he spoke of how his men shot down Ukrainian military aircraft and how he hid the Buk missile system, from which, according to Bellingcat investigative reporters, the MH17 Boeing was shot down.

Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 operating on the Kuala Lumpur - Amsterdam flight was shot down in Donbas near the village of Snizhne in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. 298 passengers and crew were aboard, all of them died.

An official investigation has confirmed that the Buk missile that brought down the MH17 aircraft was brought to the occupied territory of Donbas from Russia and belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian Defense Ministry, which is located in the Kursk region.

The Russian authorities deny the involvement of their structures in the tragedy, saying that the plane was shot down by Ukrainian troops from the village of Zaroshchenske.