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Ukrainian lawyer says DPR citizen’s role in MH17 case ‘greatly exaggerated’

"What was said about him is untrue, this person possesses no valuable information," the lawyer said
MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS
MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine
© Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS

KIEV, September 12. /TASS/. Ukrainian lawyer Valentin Rybin believes that the role of Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) citizen Vladimir Tsemakh in the investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine was greatly exaggerated.

On September 11, the Netherlands changed the status of Tsemakh, who was released from custody in Ukraine and brought to Russia as Moscow and Kiev swapped detained persons earlier this month, from a "person of interest" to "suspect" in the MH17 tragedy investigation. The report was released by German Deutsche Welle state-owned public international broadcaster and cited Dutch Member of the European Parliament Kati Piri.

"Trust me, his [Tsemakh’s] role was greatly exaggerated," Rybin told Ukraine’s ZIK TV channel.

He said that Tsemakh was highly unlikely to provide any important information about the crash, which claimed the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew members, citizens of 10 countries, on July 17, 2014.

"What was said about him is untrue, this person possesses no valuable information," the lawyer said. "There were reports that the security service has already questioned him in court, so I think that we will find out what he said very soon."

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. In spite of the active armed conflict on the ground, Kiev did not close its airspace over the Donbass region to international passenger flights. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash is made up of representatives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. Russian officials have repeatedly expressed doubts and distrust of the results of its work, pointed to the groundless nature of arguments the accusations are based on and unwillingness to use Russian evidence in the course of the investigation.

In June 2018, Ukrainian intelligence agencies abducted Vladimir Tsemakh, a resident of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and former DPR air defense militia commander. He was secretly taken to Kiev from across the line of contact in Donbass. The DPR authorities that their citizen be returned and called on international human rights organizations to intervene. According to DPR head Denis Pushilin, Ukraine abducted Tsemakh with the intention to fabricate the circumstances of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash.

Tsemakh was among those released on September 7 in accordance with the agreement reached by Russia and Ukraine to swap detainees. Prior to his release, Tsemakh was interrogated by Dutch prosecutors.