Skip to main content

In this July 17, 2014, file photo, people walk amongst the debris at the MH17 crash site, near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine

The Associated Press

Russia deliberately allowed a suspect in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to leave the country, Dutch prosecutors said Monday, calling it a breach of a European extradition treaty.

Prosecutors announced that Volodymyr Tsemakh is considered a suspect in the shooting down of the passenger plane and deaths of all 298 passengers and crew. He has not been charged with any offences.

The Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a Buk missile on July 17, 2014, over territory in eastern Ukraine that was controlled at the time by pro-Moscow rebels.

Story continues below advertisement

An international team of investigators has concluded that the missile and its launcher came from the Russian army’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade, based in the Russian city of Kursk.

The international investigation is being led by prosecutors in the Netherlands because nearly 200 of the passengers killed were Dutch citizens.

Russia has always denied responsibility for shooting down the flight and claimed that the Buk missile came from Ukrainian army arsenals.

Tsemakh, a Ukrainian who was questioned by investigators probing the downing of the flight known as MH17 while in custody in Ukraine in connection with other allegations, was handed to Russia as part of a prisoner swap in September.

Dutch prosecutors said in a statement that they asked Russia to arrest Tsemakh after the swap so he could be extradited.

While Russia does not extradite its own citizens, it could have handed over Tsemakh since he is Ukrainian, the Dutch prosecutors said, adding that they had contacted Moscow several times to warn authorities there that Tsemakh might attempt to flee.

Prosecutors said that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Stef Blok also both urged Moscow to comply.

Story continues below advertisement

Despite those efforts, Russia now says that Tsemakh’s whereabouts are no longer known and media reports suggest he has returned to eastern Ukraine, prosecutors said.

“The Public Prosecution Service has concluded that Russia willingly allowed Mr. Tsemakh to leave the Russian Federation and refused to execute the Dutch request. While under the European Convention on Extradition, it was obliged to do so,” the prosecution statement said.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian have been charged with murder over their alleged roles in bringing down flight MH17. None of them have been extradited. Their trial is scheduled to start March 9 at a courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The trial will go ahead without the suspects if they are not turned over to Dutch authorities.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies