Russia has denied a Dutch request to deliver a defendant in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in breach of European legislation, prosecutors said on Monday.
Volodymyr Tsemakh, a Ukrainian national, was identified as a suspect by the Netherlands, which will be leading an investigation into the tragedy on July 17, 2014, which murdered all 298 people on board. Two-thirds of those passengers were still Dutch.
MH17 was taken from the skies over land held by pro-Russian separatists in southern Ukraine because it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Researchers say that the missile that struck the airline came out of a launcher hauled from a Russian army base in Kursk, just across the border.
Tzemach is hunted from the Netherlands as a defendant, but isn’t one of four men — three Russians and also a Ukrainian — that goes on trial in absentia at a Dutch court in March for murder within the downing of the aircraft carrier.
“The Public Prosecution Service has concluded that Russia voluntarily let Mr Tsemakh to depart the Russian Federation and refused to do the Dutch petition. While under the European Convention on Extradition, it had been not able to do so,” the prosecution agency said in a statement.
Dutch prosecutors still have not ascertained whether or not to violate Tsemakh.
Tzemach, whom Ukraine’s security agency has recognized as a former commander of Russian-backed separatist forces in southern Ukraine, was moved to Russia in an exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kiev in September.
Dutch prosecutors said they’d asked Moscow to detaian Tsemakh and hand over to the Netherlands for questioning but obtained a note on Nov. 19 which Russia couldn’t honor because his whereabouts were unknown.