MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. The decision of The Hague court to maintain anonymity of witnesses in the case of the MH17 flight crash over Ukraine undermines trust in any rulings it delivers, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign minister Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Wednesday.
"In fact, the witness anonymity ruling can have long-lasting effects, particularly about the trust in validity of the court’s final decision whatever it might be," she said.
"To deliver justice it is important that the process is truly open and legal and that hearings fully take into account arguments of all sides and not just prosecution’s claims. As far as we understand, the hearing was made public precisely to demonstrate independence and the unbiased nature of the process and even an online broadcast from the courtroom was set up. However, we doubt that the aforementioned ruling on witness anonymity corresponds with the criteria put forward," the diplomat stressed.
Earlier, The Hague’s district court ruled to maintain the anonymous status of 12 out of 13 witnesses in the case of MH17 flight crash in eastern Ukraine in 2014. The defense team of Russian citizen Oleg Pulatov, who is one of four people indicted in this case, appealed the decision of the prosecutor to guarantee witness status of 13 people who are facing danger and to maintain their anonymity.
MH17 crash and investigation
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. The crash killed all the 283 passengers, citizens of 10 countries, and 15 crewmembers. 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.
On May 24, the experts published a provisional report, claiming that the missile system that was used to down Flight MH17 could have been transferred from Russia and be a part of the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade near Kursk. Moscow rejects the JIT accusations. Particularly, the Russian Defense Ministry said that no Russian army missile system had ever crossed the Ukrainian border. Moreover, the defense ministry’s representatives reported that they had identified the missile that was launched to down the Boeing and established that it was transferred over to the Ukrainian troops back in 1986 and had never returned to Russia since.
In June, the JIT said it had identified four persons suspected of being involved the MH17 crash. They are three Russian nationals Igor Girkin, also known under the nickname of Strelkov, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and a Ukrainian national, Leonid Kharchenko. They are accused of allegedly transporting the missile system that downed the plane to Ukraine from Russia. The trial began in the Netherlands on March 9.
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 conclusion in the course of the investigation.