DPR detains defendant in MH17 downing case

Leonid Kharchenko,the defendant in the case of the Boeing 777 flight MH17, has been detained in Donetsk , reported BBC with reference to a fellow militant and another source who was involved in DPR military command.

DPR authorities detained Kharchenko near his home on March 11, two days after the Dutch court charged him with involvement in the MH17 disaster. However, according to BBC, Kharchenko's detention and subsequent arrest are connected with another criminal case.

A co-worker of the arrested militant said he was charged with carrying out “an illegal search of a property” in 2014 and possession of firearms. According to the source, these accusations are simply "ridiculous" and Kharchenko was arrested in order to isolate him and prevent possible abduction by Ukrainian special services.

"With regards to the first accusation, the victims have no complaints against him. And as for the second, this gun was given to him in 2019 by the "DPR Ministry of State Security" to ensure personal safety in connection with MH17 case”, claims a colleague of the suspect.

On May 8, the so-called "court" of DPR extended Kharchenko's arrest for another two months. He is being held in the Donetsk detention center on Kobozeva steet, 4.

In Ukraine, Kharchenko was put on the wanted list in July 2015. He was charged in absentia with creating a terrorist group, and in 2019 Ukrainian law enforcement officers opened a case against him on suspicion of his involvement in the downing of a Malaysian airliner.

On March 9, the first hearings into the plane crash of Boeing 777 flight MH17 began in the Netherlands.

Among the suspects is Leonid Kharchenko, a former commander of the "GRU intelligence unit" of the Donetsk People’s pseudo-republic. According to the investigation team, he was involved in transporting the BUK missile system, from which the plane was shot down, into Ukraine, as well as bringing it back to Russia.

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.

  MH17, JIT, Donbas