Malaysia Airlines MH17 case: Judges reject request to investigate alternative crash scenarios

AMSTERDAM: Judges hearing the case against four defendants in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Wednesday (Nov 25) rejected a defence request for more time to investigate alternative scenarios into the crash in eastern Ukraine.

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels during fighting with Ukrainian government troops, international investigators say. All 298 people on board were killed, two-thirds of them Dutch nationals.

Toys are placed near the cross in memory of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash in the village of Rozsypne in Donetsk region, Ukraine. (Photo: Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko)

After years of collecting evidence, a Dutch-led international Joint Investigation team (JIT) last year said the missile launcher used to hit the civilian aeroplane came from a Russian army base just across the border.

The Dutch government holds Moscow responsible, and three Russians and a Ukrainian are on trial for murder. None of the suspects is in custody and only one is represented in court proceedings.

Russia has always denied involvement and has promoted a range of alternative theories, which the investigators rejected as unsupported by evidence.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said the defence had not provided a clear alternative scenario to investigate, while information on several other possible explanations was already part of the case file.

Steenhuis said witnesses who reported seeing the missile launcher on Jul 17, 2014, should be questioned again.

Judges also ruled that a new effort should be made to speak to the leader of Russia’s 53rd brigade, which has been identified by investigators as having transported the missile launcher.

Source: Reuters/mi/CNA

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