Dutch Prosecutors Attach Almaz-Antey's Report on Photos of MH17 Wreckage to Case File

The Dutch prosecutors added the Russian arms industry company Almaz-Antey's report on the photographs of the wreckage found at the site of the MH17 plane crash to the case file, prosecutor Manon Ridderbeks said on Thursday.

"All the wreckage found at the crash site underwent a forensic medical examination. The Russian defence concern Almaz-Antey assessed photographs of the wreckage found at the site of the tragedy. Their conclusions on the photos and reports were attached to the case," Ridderbeks said.

According to the report, only the wreckage of the MH17 aircraft was found at the site.

The Dutch prosecutor's office is ready to take into account new data on the ongoing investigation into the 2014 downing of a Malaysian jet over Ukraine, Ridderbeks added.

The hearing on the merits of the case resumed earlier in the day in the Schiphol Judicial Complex.

Ridderbeks said that the probe by the investigating judge was still ongoing and recalled that back in 2020 prosecutors said they were always open to new information that could result in changes to the interim conclusion of the investigation.

The Malaysian Boeing bound for Kuala Lumpur crashed in July 2014 while flying over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. A Joint Investigation Team, set up by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine claims that the plane was downed by a Buk missile belonging to the Russian armed forces. Moscow has repeatedly rejected the allegations. Though Russia offered help in the investigation, it was denied full access to the probe.

Almaz-Antey, the Russian maker of advanced anti-aircraft systems, whose products include the Buk type air defence missile, carried out its own investigation into the MH17 crash, examining forensic evidence, declassifying secret information about its military hardware, and conducting a complex experiment based on ballistics, flight trajectory and other pertinent information. The Russian investigators concluded that an older variant of the Buk missile which was built in 1986 and had been phased out of Russia's arsenal during a military modernisation campaign in the early 2010s had been used to target and destroy the plane.

The MH17 court is trying Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, for their actions, which, according to Joint Investigative Team (JIT), led to the downing of the Boeing. Out of the four defendants, only Pulatov is represented by lawyers in the court.

MH17 Trial Continues in Netherlands

The main phase of the MH17 trial resumes at the Schiphol Judicial Complex. Earlier on Monday, opening statements in the trial were made, thus concluding procedural hearings that started in March 2020.

Meanwhile, the total number of reparation claims from families of the victims of the 2014 Malaysian jet crash in eastern Ukraine has reached 299, as the court began hearings on the merits of the case.

The MH17 court accused Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, for their actions, which, according to Joint Investigative Team (JIT), led to the downing of the ill-fated Boeing. Out of the four defendants, only Pulatov is represented by lawyers in the court.

Two Pilots Killed In Military Plane Crash In Belarus

A military jet exploded after crashing into the ground near private houses on the outskirts of the city of Baranavichy in western Belarus, killing two pilots.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry said in a statement on May 19 that the Yak-130 aircraft from a military airbase located in the city of Lida, suffered a technical malfunction during a training flight.

"The pilots showed courage and heroism, trying to divert the falling plane from a village. After making sure that the trajectory of the plane crash was outside the residential buildings, the pilots ejected. Unfortunately, both pilots died," the ministry’s statement said.

It named the deceased as Major Andrey Nichyparchyk, a combat squadron commander in charge of the training, and pilot Lieutenant Mikita Kukanenka.

The independent online media outlet Tut.by placed videos and pictures on Telegram from the site of the accident, showing debris from the crash that hit vehicles and buildings near a residential area.

Witnesses say, the explosion shattered windows in dozens of apartment blocks in the vicinity.

Rescue teams and firefighters are working at the site.

Malaysia's approach to MH17 based on evidence, not politics - Malaysian ambassador to Ukraine

Malaysia is committed to achieve justice in the investigation into the downing of flight MH17, but its approach has always been based on evidence rather than political influence. In this context, the position of incumbent Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on the MH17 case does not differ from the position of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Malaysian Ambassador to Ukraine Raja Reza Raja Zaib Shah said this in an exclusive interview with Ukrinform, when asked whether the Malaysian authorities' attitude to the MH17 case has changed since February last year, after the resignation of Mahathir Mohammad, who saw no convincing evidence that Russia should be held responsible for the MH17 crash.

"Despite the change in the Malaysian government and the leadership from Tun Dr. Mahathir to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in 2020, Malaysia's position on MH17 remains unchanged. We are still committed to the Joint Investigation Team process, and we still maintain that we want to have a transparent, credible and also effective process of the trial, based on the rule of law, in order for justice to prevail. So our approach has always been based on evidence, not to be influenced by any political motives," he said.

The ambassador added: " In that sense, we always reiterate that the downing of MH17 should not be attributed to any country until the District Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, has examined all the evidence and delivered its judgment later, which I think is going to be a long process."

He said that Malaysia would not take sides until the completion of the criminal investigation. "Other parties are free to file any legal actions, like what Ukraine is doing. So these are all parallel and alternative actions to seek justice," the ambassador said, commenting on two applications from the victims' relatives and a lawsuit filed by the Netherlands before the European Court of Human Rights to support the victims' relatives.

Malaysia is one of the five countries in the Joint Investigation Team, together with Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and Ukraine, and has pledged to contribute $5.7 million for the trial. The money will be allocated in the first quarter of 2021 and will cover all expenses, including security, transportation, communication, facilities, including Ukraine's liaison office and other contingencies expenses, Raja Reza Raja Zaib Shah said.

According to the ambassador, the MH17 tragedy has brought Malaysia and Ukraine closer. "I know this is a painful process for the family members but we are very pleased that finally, the trial has started in The Hague. There are four people who have been accused in the court. Although the trial is being conducted in absentia, meaning the accused are not present, we hope that at the end of the trial the family members of the 298 passengers and crewmembers will have something to say, 'Okay, now we know who is responsible for the downing of MH17.' For me it is important to seek the truth, but we must follow a true, credible and transparent trial," he said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over conflict-hit Donbas in July 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. All of them died.

The international Joint Investigation Team reported that the plane had been shot down from a Buk missile system that belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.

The Hague District Court in March 2020 began to consider the case of the downing of flight MH17.


Ukraine extends the work Intl Mission for Protection of Investigation on flight MH17 until Aug

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law on the ratification of the agreement in the form of an exchange of notes between Ukraine and the Netherlands to extend until August 1, 2021, the term of the multinational International Mission for Protection of Investigation dated July 28, 2014.

According to the presidential website on Friday, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the relevant agreement on February 16, 2021 at the president's initiative.

The agreement dated 28 July 2014 established the multinational International Mission for Protection of Investigation on the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The main task of the mission is to facilitate the collection of remains, the investigation, and other activities that may be agreed between the sides.

The agreement was concluded for a period of one year, and its effect was extended several times.

The law comes into force on the day of its publication.


Flight MH17 Trial Continues in Netherlands

Earlier, the District Court of The Hague said that on 7 June 2021, it would begin hearing the case of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

The MH17 criminal trial resumes at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp to prosecute four suspects over their alleged responsibility for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 in eastern Ukraine while on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 passengers (mostly Dutch) and crew on board were killed in the crash.

MH17: M’sian govt to spend RM23.32mil on Dutch trial, Dr Wee tells Parliament

The Malaysian government will spend RM23.32mil on the Dutch trial involving the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

"The trial is currently ongoing and the RM23.32mil is 30% of the trial cost which the government will bear next year to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice," he said when winding up his ministerial replies on Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday. (Dec 7)

He added the trial comes after the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board's initial probe and the subsequent criminal investigations by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Dr Wee said the allocation will cover both lawyers’ fees and court costs.

"The country has a responsibility as it involved the downing of a Malaysian aircraft whose perpetrators must be punished," he added.

MH17 was said to have been shot down by a BUK missile over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17,2014.

All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed.

Criminal charges were brought against four defendants in the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands in March this year for allegedly shooting down MH17.

The four were Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

In September this year, the Dutch government announced that it plans to take Russia to the European Court of Human Rights over the downing of MH17.

On a separate issue, Dr Wee said that Penang's ageing ferry service would be replaced with catamarans.

"The ferries are about 47-years-old and it's difficult to find replacement spare-parts. That is why we will be using catamarans," he said.

He reminded lawmakers that former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had agreed in 2019 to replace the existing ferries with catamarans.

On the exclusion of cars on the proposed catamaran service, Dr Wee said only 200,000 passengers with cars out of the 1.5mil passengers a year used the ferry service.

He added that Penang has two bridges and this provided an avenue for those with cars to travel to the island.

The last working Penang ferry suffered an engine breakdown in August this year, prompting a temporary suspension of the ferry service.


Russia says further MH17 consultations with Australia, the Netherlands are meaningless

Russia has withdrawn from talks with Australia and the Netherlands launched nearly two years ago to establish responsibility for the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Russia's foreign ministry said it was pointless to continue consultations with Australia and the Netherlands over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, accusing both countries of not seeking to establish what happened.

Russia said investigations conducted had been biased and politicised.

Dutch Foreign Ministry Says Probe Started Into Why Ukraine Did Not Close Skies Over MH17 Crash Site

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, at the height of the civil war between Kiev and Donbass militias. All 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 jumbo jet were killed. In the years since, Kiev and the militias have blamed each other for the tragedy.

The Flight Safety Foundation, an independent US-based non-profit, has begun an investigation into why Kiev did not close the airspace over the war zone in eastern Ukraine where MH17 was destroyed in July 2014.

"The inquiry has started, and is carried out by a third party, the Flight Safety Foundation. The inquiry will look at the closure of the airspace above eastern Ukraine and regions surrounding the conflict area (including the territory of the Russian Federation)," the ministry said.

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the deadly aerial incident, which has since become the source of competing back-and-forth claims about who is responsible for the disaster. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte sent out a video message to the relatives of the victims, 193 of whom were Dutch nationals, where he emphasized the importance of honouring their memory.

"Unfortunately, the event was organized differently this year because of the coronavirus. But I am convinced that this does not lessen the sense of connection. And it makes the one minute of silence only more powerful," Rutte said.

MH17: Tragedy Turned Into Political Scandal

In addition to being one of the deadliest air disasters in history, the MH17 incident has become a major political scandal. Immediately after the crash, Kiev accused Donbass militias of shooting the plane down, with the pro-independence militia fighters insisting that they did not have the advanced air defence systems to down an airliner flying at over 21,000 feet, and blaming Kiev for the disaster.

Shortly thereafter, without presenting any evidence, the US and its European allies accused Russia of responsibility for the tragedy through Moscow's alleged support for the militias, and used the claims as a pretext to introduce new sanctions against Moscow. Russian officials denied the allegations.

An investigation conducted by a joint investigative team led by the Dutch prosecutor general alleged that flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile which had been transferred to the eastern Ukrainian militias. Russia was not allowed to take part in the investigation, and refused to recognize its conclusions. At the same time, Moscow has accused investigators of dismissing all evidence and expert assessments which ran counter to a predetermined conclusion of alleged Russian involvement, while ruling out possible Ukrainian military involvement. As their evidence, the joint investigative team investigators cited "classified information" allegedly provided by Dutch and US authorities which could not be revealed to the public.

Russia subsequently carried out its own investigation, including studies of forensic evidence, the declassification of previously secret information about advanced military hardware, and a complex experiment by defence concern Almaz-Antey, makers of the Buk type air defence missile, which concluded that flight MH17 was shot down by an older variant of the missile built in 1986 and belonging to Ukraine. Russia fully retired its stocks of Soviet-era Buks in the 2000s as part of a large-scale modernization of its military.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has similarly questioned the investigators' allegations, accusing them of "trying to pin" the blame on Russia instead of engaging in a "neutral kind of examination," and complaining that Malaysia itself has not been allowed to examine the plane's black box. The ex-prime minister also pointed out that the Buk missile said to have been used to shoot down the plane could have been fired by Ukraine's army, and said that "strong evidence" would be needed before conclusions in such a serious case could be made.

Late last month, Dutch prosecutors moved to postpone further MH17-related hearings in a trial against three Russians and one Ukrainian charged in absentia with operating the Buk, from this autumn until February-March 2021 at the request of the attorneys and representatives of the victims. The trial, which began in March, was resumed in June after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Russia itself is not a party to those proceedings.

In a related development, last week, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok announced that Amsterdam would be filing a lawsuit against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights over the MH17 disaster, and would be sending an official note on the matter to the United Nations Security Council. Russia's ministry of justice urged the Court to "evaluate its applicability" with the participation of all parties implicated, and reiterated that Moscow firmly rejects accusations of playing any role in the plane's destruction.

Moscow Slams Hague's Decision to Bring Russia Before European Court of Human Rights Over MH17 Crash

The news comes after the Dutch Public Prosecution Service agreed to delay the hearings from this autumn to February-March 2021, after a request by attorneys and representatives of the victims.

The Netherlands plans to file a lawsuit against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the flight MH17 catastrophe, according to Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok.

The Dutch cabinet also plans to send an official note about the lawsuit to the UN Security Council.

The statement is issued as the Dutch court, holding the hearings at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, declined a request by the defence to ask NATO to provide satellite data on the crash. According to the judges, the information from the AWACS aircraft "did not yield any relevant data for the investigation".

Previously, Ukraine also failed to present primary radar data on the incident, "as the radar was not operating at that moment".

Commenting on the hearing, Moscow stressed that the court has generally ignored the information provided by Russia, while unquestioningly accepting data from Ukraine, despite it being an interested party. ECHR Confirms It Received Dutch Claim Against Russia Over MH17 Case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirmed on Friday that it had received the Netherlands' claim against Russia regarding its alleged role in the 2014 deadly crash of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

"We confirm that the Court has received an application filed by the NL [the Netherlands] Government and directed against the Russian Federation concerning flight MH17. It is currently under examination and further details will be given in due course," the ECHR said.

ECHR Has Not Notified Russia About Dutch Claim Over MH17 Crash

The Russian authorities have not received any notification from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the Netherlands' claim related to the circumstances of the MH17 flight's crash over eastern Ukraine back in 2014, the Russian Ministry of Justice said on Friday.

"The Russian Federation authorities have not been notified by the ECHR about the Netherlands filing a claim against Russia over the Malaysian Boeing's crash in 2014 in the skies over Ukraine," the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

The ministry added it would engage in necessary action in cooperation with relevant agencies if it was notified about the claim.

"Before considering the claim on the merits, the ECHR should evaluate its applicability, with the participation of the sides. This stage could last for several years. It should be noted that Russia firmly refutes accusations of playing a role in the Boeing's crash," the statement read on.

MH17 Crash Over Donbass

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was downed over the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, amid a military conflict in the county caused by a violent coup d'état in Kiev. Ukrainian forces in the area were clashing with militia from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, which refused to submit to Kiev and expressed their intention to unite with Russia.

All 298 passengers on the aircraft, including 198 Dutch nationals, died in the crash.

Almost immediately after the incident, the US and its European allies claimed without presenting any evidence that Russia was responsible for the tragedy. These allegations were used by Washington and Brussels as a pretext to introduce sanctions against Moscow, while Russia repeatedly denied the accusations.

A Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed soon after the crash, invited Ukraine, Belgium, and Australia to join the probe, but excluded Russia from the investigation.

In 2018, JIT claimed that the plane was shot down by a Buk missile system, which allegedly came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian military, citing "classified information" provided by the Dutch and US authorities that could not be revealed. It was also noted that the team used images from social networks to prove the claims.

Addressing the allegations, Moscow conducted its own investigation showing that the Buk missile which allegedly hit the flight was made at the Dolgoprudny Plant in the Moscow Region in 1986, delivered to a military unit in Ukraine, and remained there after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the evidence was completely ignored by the Dutch-led investigation.

After several years of investigating, JIT has named 3 Russian citizens (Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin, and Sergey Dubinsky) as well as one Ukrainian (Leonid Kharchenko) as suspects in the MH17 downing.