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The Netherlands seeks to exert pressure on court ahead of MH17 case hearing — diplomat

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the media campaign launched ahead of the trial is aimed at compensating for gaps in the evidence base

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. The media campaign, launched by the Netherlands ahead of the court hearing on Malaysian Boeing crash in Donbass, is a blatant attempt to exert pressure on the court, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing Friday.

"The media campaign gains unprecedented scale. It features an accusatory tone against Russia and its citizens, which is totally unacceptable," Zakharova stated. "It was launched days before the hearing to compensate for gaps in the evidence base and to conceal manipulation of facts in favor of a version chosen in advance. Maybe, it has also been done to create an image of flawlessness of the investigation, pre-determine the verdict and prevent any veering off the course taken 6 years ago."

"We classify all of the abovementioned as a blatant attempt to exert pressure on the court," Zakharova underscored.

The diplomat recalled that, within the media campaign, the Joint Investigative Group (JIT) announced "some witnesses, whose names and identities are classified."

"All this looks like the magic formula: ‘we definitely know that you did it, because secret sources, which we cannot disclose, told us.' We have an impression that this formula has become a working instrument in a whole number of loud cases, events, incidents. And it is being employed more and more widely," Zakharova noted.

The spokeswoman highlighted that some sensitive issues, directly related to the crash of the Malaysian Boeing, fall out of public discourse, such as "the fact that Ukraine failed to close its airspace for civilian aircraft in summer 2014 despite an ongoing domestic armed conflict."

"A wealth of information sent by Russia regarding the circumstances of the accident continue to be ignored. The investigators are also not interested in why all employees of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, who probed the crash, got fired ahead of the court proceedings," Zakharova indicated.

Crash and investigation

On July 17, 2014, the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Donetsk Region of Ukraine, killing 298 people from at least 10 states. Despite active armed conflict, Kiev decided not to close its airspace for international passenger flights. A Joint Investigative Team (JIT), involving specialists from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, was created to investigate the incident.

Last June, the JIT announced that it identified four people suspected of involvement in the accident, including three Russian and one Ukrainian nationals.

The Russian officials have repeatedly expressed lack of confidence in the JIT investigation results, pointed out baselessness of the plaintiffs’ arguments and the investigators’ unwillingness to use conclusions of the Russian side.