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Dutch court to possibly reveal prosecution witnesses in MH17 crash case

The defense of Russian national Oleg Pulatov, tried in the case, plans to interrogate about 30 witnesses

SCHIPHOL /The Netherlands/, November 5. /TASS/. The Dutch court can request that the prosecution in the case of the Malaysian Boeing crash in Ukraine back in 2014 disclose information about several witnesses who are subject of interest for questioning by the defense attorney team of indicted Russian national Oleg Pulatov, presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said at the hearing’s opening Thursday.

"The defense have justified their requests to hear witnesses but for a significant number of these witnesses, roughly speaking nearly 30 of them, they remain unidentified according to the file. It is possible that the investigation, which is still underway, has brought the identity of some of the witnesses sought to light. Now, the court will perhaps hear that from the prosecution when they reply," the judge noted.

"If it is not the case, the question arises how these people can be identified if the court decides to authorize the witnesses," Steenhuis added. At the same time, he asked the defense team to explain to the court how they plan to question these witnesses and whether their client Oleg Pulatov has information to reveal identities of some of the witnesses.

Another series of hearings of the MH17 flight crash case started Tuesday. In the hearings, Pulatov’s defense attorneys made a request to the court to question several prosecution witnesses. These witnesses are only mentioned in the case files as combination of letters and numbers as prosecution insists they should remain anonymous. Meanwhile, the defense attorneys point out that the lack of information about these people, and particularly the fact that the judge is unaware of this information, raises questions about their testimonies.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, conducting flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed on July 17, 2014, in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine, killing 298 people from 10 states. A Joint Investigative Team (JIT) was created to investigate the crash, including representatives of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. In June 2019, experts claimed that they had identified a group of four people, suspected of involvement in the tragedy. It includes former Donetsk People’s Republic militia leader Igor Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, and his subordinates: Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. According to the investigation, the former three are Russian nationals, and the latter is a Ukrainian national. The court hearings against the four men began on March 9. Pulatov is the only one represented by a group of lawyers, while the remaining three are tried in absentia. The four are accused of delivering a Buk air defense system from Russia to Ukraine.

Russian officials repeatedly doubted the JIT findings, pointing out baselessness of the plaintiffs’ arguments and unwillingness to use conclusions of the Russian side during the investigation.