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Netherlands Rejects Russia’s Request to Hand Over MH17 Case
13 February, 2020

The Netherlands has refused Russia’s bid to transfer the case concerning the involvement of three Russians in the MH17 crash over the Donbas in July 2014.

This is stated in a letter of the Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus to the Russian Parliament, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

In the fall of 2019, Russia sent a formal request to the Netherlands with a proposal to try the three Russians suspected of crashing the plane in Russia.

"The Justice and Security Ministry replied that the transfer of criminal proceedings against the three Russian suspects by the Dutch authorities is not an option and has not been taken into consideration," Grapperhaus said in the letter.

READ MORE: Dutch Prosecution Serves Charges on 4 MH17 Defendants

According to him, the trial of the suspects is an important step in finding the truth and justice for all 298 people aboard the plane downed near the village of Snizhne in the Donetsk region.

"The government has full confidence in the independence and quality of Dutch justice," Grapperhaus added.

The Joint Investigation Team announced the names of four suspects in the crash in June 2019. These are:

Russian citizens: 

  • Igor Girkin-Strelkov, then-minister of defense of the "DPR";

  • Sergei "Khmury" Dubinskiy, a subordinate of Strelkov, Major-General of the Russian army, who headed the so-called military intelligence of militants;

  • Oleg Pulatov (call sign "Gyurza" and "Khalif"), a subordinate of Dubinsky, headed the second division of the "DPR" military intelligence (GRU).

Ukrainian citizen:

  • Leonid Kharchenko (call sign "Mole"), who headed one of the units of the "DPR GRU" and together with Pulatov accompanied Buk to Snizhne where it fired the missile.

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

The four men have been put on the international wanted list. The trial is due to begin on March 9, 2020 in the Netherlands.

It was also in June that the Ukrainian special services captured Volodymyr Tsemakh, an anti-aircraft gunner from the Donetsk region, who said in a video that he had "hidden the Buk". However, in September, the Ukrainian authorities transferred him to Russia within the prisoner exchange. The investigation also changed Tsemakh's status from a witness to a suspect in September.

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

The Netherlands formally sent requests for Tsemakh's extradition to Russia, but Moscow refused and Tsemakh returned to the non-government-controlled part of the Donetsk region.

In May 2018, the official investigation confirmed that the Buk missile that downed 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 Armed Forces, which is located in the Kursk region.

The Russian government denies the involvement of its structures in the tragedy, claiming that the plane was shot down by Ukrainian troops from the village of Zaroshchenske.