The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has said that the Russian Federation deliberately allowed Volodymyr Tsemakh, a suspect in the MH17 downing probe, to leave the country so as not to extradite him to the Netherlands.
"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," as reported by the Ukrainian media outlet European Pravda with reference to the Dutch prosecutors' conclusion regarding extradition requests sent to the Russian side.
The prosecution service reiterated Tsemakh was regarded as a suspect in the case.
"The PPS regards him as a suspect, but a decision whether it will prosecute him has not yet been taken. For the decision to prosecute more evidence is required than for the decision to consider someone a suspect," it said.
The prosecution service informed both the Russian side and relatives of the victims of the crash about its conclusion.
However, as noted in the prosecutor's office, "the events concerning Mr Tsemakh have no effect on the start of the MH17 criminal trial," which is scheduled for March 9, 2020.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukraine's spec-ops forces managed to detain Tsemakh, who is a citizen of Ukraine, in the Russia-occupied town of Snizhne in late June 2019. He was reportedly a commander of an anti-aircraft unit in occupied Donbas back in 2014 and is suspected by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies of involvement in the downing of flight MH17 over Donbas in July 2014. He is also suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack, which killed four Ukrainian soldiers.
In late August, Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins suggested that Tsemakh was on a list of detainees prepared for a major Ukraine-Russia prisoner swap.
On September 5, Kyiv's Court of Appeals ruled to release Tsemakh on personal recognizance. Under a court ruling, he was supposed not to leave his place of permanent residence in Russia-occupied Donbas.
On September 7, Tsemakh was transferred to Russia as part of a major prisoner swap, as a result of which 24 Ukrainian sailors and 11 Ukrainian political prisoners returned home.
Later it became known that he had returned to the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic."
On September 7, the Dutch Prosecutor's Office sent a request to the Russian authorities for Tsemakh's temporary arrest for further extradition to the Netherlands.
On September 11, the Netherlands changed Tsemakh's status from a key witness to a suspect.