Dutch FM tells parliament government 'deeply regrets' Tsemakh part of prisoner exchange under pressure from Russia
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Stef Bok in a letter addressed to the president of the country's parliament informed him of the latest events involving suspect Volodymyr Tsemakh in the downing of the Boeing Malaysia Airline flight MH17. He said the government regrets Tsemakh was included in the exchange because of pressure from Russia.
The letter is dated September 7, 2019 and was published on the parliament's website.
Blok says in the letter that Ukraine transferred Tsemakh and other prisoners to Russia during the exchange. He said that in the middle of August Dutch prosecutors informed the government that Tsemakh could become part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine. For that reason, Dutch prosecutors did everything possible using legal channels so that Tsemakh was accessible for the criminal investigation into the fact of the shooting down of MH17.
Blok said Ukraine and the Netherlands held several consultations on the highest level in diplomatic and political channels on this issue.
"The government called on responsible Ukrainian authorities not to include Tsemakh in the prisoner exchange," Blok said.
Blok emphasized the importance of making Tsemakh accessible as part of a criminal investigation.
"In response, the Ukrainian authorities promised to postpone the exchange for some time to enable the prosecutor's office to question Tsemakh again, and this is what happened. Ukraine is an important partner in the Joint Investigative Group (JIT)and in prosecuting those responsible for the MH17 tragedy, as provided for in UNSC Resolution No. 2166. However, the government deeply regrets that Tsemakh, under pressure from the Russian Federation, has become part of this exchange, which means that he is currently in Russia," the Dutch Foreign Minister said.
He also recalled that Russia is also obligated to cooperate on the basis of UNSC Resolution 2166.
Blok noted that the criminal investigation is ongoing, and according to the prosecutor's office, these events have no consequences for the process, which will begin on March 9, 2020.
On September 3, the Dutch chief prosecutor urged Ukraine not to transfer Tseemakh to Russia, as he is being held by a suspect in the case of the downing of MH17, the daily national NRC newspaper Handelsblad said.
The Kyiv Court of Appeal on September 5 canceled the preventive measure in the form of detention of the "Donetsk People's Republic" fighter Tsemkakh in detention in Kyiv.
On Saturday, Tsemakh arrived in Russia as part of the mutual release of detainees with Ukraine.
The Boeing airliner of Malaysian Airlines, operating flight МН17 Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), was shot down in the sky over Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board died.
Investigation of the causes of the disaster is conducted by the JIT, which includes representatives of law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Malaysia.