Witness interview dates removed from MH17 case materials for safety concerns

Dates of the witness interviews have been removed from the case materials of the downed flight MH17 in order to exclude identification of witnesses, said Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Gunduz Mammadov in an interview with Ukrinform.

"As a rule, the questioning of witnesses who are given protection cannot be conducted in an open court hearing. In such cases, even the disclosure of the time and place of wintess interviews may pose a risk to their safety. For example, the dates of the relevant interviews have been removed from the court case materials, because it can contribute to witness identification," he explained.

Mammadov added that the court's goal is to identify and bring to justice those who carried out the missile launch and those who gave orders.

The District Court of The Hague decided not to disclose the names of 12 witnesses in the case of the downed flight MH17 over the Donbas. The thirteenth witness did not receive special status and his testimony could not be used in court.

The defense of one of the four defendants, Lt. Col. Oleg Pulatov, appealed against the decision to provide special status and anonymity to 13 witnesses.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board were killed.

The international Joint Investigation Team has concluded that the aircraft was shot down by a 9M38 missile fired from a mobile Buk system in a cultivated field near Pervomaiskyi. At the time, the region was controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The investigators believe that the Buk was brought into Ukraine from Russia and then taken back to Russia after it was used to attack flight MH17.

In June 2019, the names of four suspects in the case were released: Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, Sergey “Gloomy” Dubinsky, Oleg “Caliph” Pulatov, and 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, Donbas, Russia, Ukraine