The identities of 13 witnesses in the case concerning the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 catastrophe will be kept secret on account of threats to their safety, NOS reports. According to the documents from the Netherlands Public Prosecution Office cited by the news outlet, the health and life of the witnesses are at a “significant risk”.
However, the motion to classify the identity of another witness was rejected by the investigative judge, citing the impossibility of guaranteeing his anonymity. The judge nevertheless recognized that the witness is at risk in connection with his testimony.
On Monday, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced that it had found a person who had witnessed the Buk missile being fired at the airliner. The JIT stated that there is no doubt that the passenger plane was destroyed by a Russian anti-air missile system. The team also said that Russia has not participated in the investigation.
A court in The Hague will start considering the case on March 9, 2020.
On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down near the city of Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. All crew members and passengers were killed, a total of 298 people, including 80 children.
At a press conference in The Hague in May 2018, nearly four years later, the JIT presented fragments of the missile used to shoot down the plane. The Buk system from which the missile was fired belonged to the 53rd anti-air missile brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, which is based in Kursk.
In June 2019, the JIT released the names of four suspects in the MH17 case: The three Russian citizens Sergey “Gloomy” Dubinsky, Oleg “Caliph” Pulatov and Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, and the Ukrainian citizen Leonid “Mole” Kharchenko. Former DPR militant Vladimir Tsemakh was later also declared a suspect, but Ukraine handed him over to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that the defendants are suspected of committing “a terrorist act which lead to human deaths”.
After five years of investigation, the JIT has established the exact time and route taken by the Buk anti-air missile system from Russia to Ukraine and back, the time and place where the fatal missile was fired, and obtained information about more than 150 people who were involved in the transportation of the Buk.