The Netherlands Wants to Question Ukraine's MH17 Suspect
3 September, 2019

Dutch prosecutors investigating the downing of MH17 Boeing over eastern Ukraine five years ago want to speak to Volodymyr Tsemakh, calling him a “person of interest” in their probe. Tsemakh was likely involved in the M17 flight crash as an anti-aircraft gunner on the side of Russia-controlled militias.

“The Dutch public prosecutor would like to have Mr. Tsemakh in Ukraine so he’s available for the investigation and we can ask him further questions,” Brechtje van de Moosdijk, a spokeswoman for the Joint Investigation Team, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Van de Moosdijk admitted that if Tsemakh would be swapped, “of course it’s hard to say that we can speak to him when he would be in Russia.”

On September 2, theBabel reported that the Netherlands urged Ukraine not to extradite Tsemakh. The outlet published a copy of a letter sent by the Chief Prosecutor of the Netherlands Fred Westerbeke to Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine.

After the rumors on the exchange with detained individuals between Ukraine and Russia emerged, Tsemakh is being considered as a possible part of the swap. Reports have suggested that Tsemakh is on the list of prisoners that Moscow wants exchanged. 

However, nothing indicates Ukraine is considering such a step. Prosecutor Oleh Peresada told Hromadske that the court, on August 24, had prolonged the detention of Volodymyr Tsemakh. According to the BBC’s Russian service, Tsemakh was arrested in his flat in Snizhne on June 27, 2019. On June 29, Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi District Court sentenced him to a two-month arrest for “creating a terrorist group or terrorist organization”. Tsemakh is being held in remand prison at the moment. 

Peresada told Hromadske that he knows nothing about the Netherlands's position at the moment, and his client asked him "not to comment to the press". Hromadske made an inquiry to the Embassy of the Netherlands.

Volodymyr Tsemakh, the former anti-aircraft defense commander in the occupied part of the Donetsk region, appears to be the key witness in downing the MH17 plane.

Tsemakh is the former anti-aircraft defense commander in the occupied part of the Donetsk region. His daughter claims he only took the position in October 2014, but at the time MH17 was downed near Snizhne in the occupied Donbas, he was the only man who was qualified to fire the Buk missile system, even if he was not in fact the commander at the time.

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