MOSCOW, March 12. /TASS/. Statements regarding Russia’s involvement in the Malaysian MH17 Boeing crash in Ukraine have no grounds and are based on dubious sources, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
"A lot of fake news have been disseminated in the last few days. I would like to recall that Russia is not a party to the process. Besides, statements regarding our country’s involvement in the catastrophe have no grounds and are based on dubious sources," Zakharova stated.
On March 9-10, the first court hearings on the Malaysian Boeing crash took place. Zakharova pointed to "a brazen policy of the prosecution, who openly force the review of this complex case and demand that the court formally approve the imposed version of the events as soon as possible."
"I will only provide one example. The Dutch prosecutors already quote some anonymous witnesses, allegedly in possession of incontestable evidence of the defendants’ guilt. At the same time, using the old 'highly likely’ formula, the society is being intimidated with Russian intelligence services, who allegedly seek to identify the witnesses, intimidate them, and obstruct the reconstruction of the true picture of the tragedy," the diplomat said.
The charges have been filed against three Russians and one Ukrainian national. Defense of one of the accused has already called on the court to carefully review the case materials, which comprise more than 30,000 pages.
"The defense raised questions that both [Russia] and the Dutch lawmakers asked repeatedly — why Ukraine failed to close its airspace over the armed conflict zone, and why this fact has not been investigated to the end," the spokeswoman said.
The diplomat pointed out that tens of other legitimate questions, raised not only by Russia, but by "the politicians, journalists, civil society representatives who reject the mainstream version, who were actually force-fed with it," also remain unanswered.
Need for impartiality
Russia expects unbiased, independent and impartial court process with thorough reviewing of all facts concerning the Malaysian Airlines MH17 Boeing crash in Ukraine in 2014, the diplomat said.
"We do not intend to prejudge the court’s ruling. We hope that all the information available will be reviewed impartially, not only the plaintiffs’ arguments. If the [Dutch] court is truly independent, and unbiased, it will have to thoroughly review all facts surrounding this tragedy in their entirety," Zakharova commented.
"To order additional expertise — this means to interrogate other witnesses and specialists, not only those hand-picked by the prosecutors. Actions of Ukrainian authorities or maybe lack thereof must be thoroughly analyzed. The authenticity of the presented evidence — photo, video and audio materials — must be checked," the spokeswoman explained. "On the face of it this is what the court has to do if it is truly impartial."
The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines went down on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region. As a result, 298 people were killed, the majority of them Dutch citizens. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of representatives of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, was established to investigate the crash.
Initially, the experts said that the plane was taken down by the Buk air defense system, and in 2019, they claimed that they have identified four people - three Russian and one Ukrainian national - suspected of involvement in the incident. According to the investigation, the four men were involved in delivering the Buk system from Russian territory to the location where the missile was fired.
The court hearings over the four men has begun in the Netherlands on March 9. Following two days of hearings, the court ordered a break until March 23, in a bid to review the requests and demands filed by the plaintiffs and the defense. Three of the four defendants will be tried in absentia. All four men are charged with destruction of the plane and murder of all 298 passengers.
The trial is being held amid substantial disagreements between Russia and the West as to whether one can rely on international investigators’ findings. Russian officials have repeatedly expressed distrust in the joint team’s work and pointed out that prosecutors’ arguments were groundless. They also stressed that international investigators were reluctant to use Russia’s conclusions in the course of the investigation.