"Concerning the anonymous witnesses … The case materials contain certain information, which is confidential and unavailable to them [to the defense]. It was necessary to protect the witnesses. It should be treated seriously", Berger said.
The prosecutor added that an independent investigating magistrate had checked the reliability of each witness and the credibility of their testimony.
"There is a rule, according to which, if the defense can not attend the interrogation of witnesses, prosecutors are not present either", Berger said.
The hearing on the criminal case resumed on Thursday at the Schiphol Judicial Complex located in the northern Dutch city of Badhoevedorp. Sabine ten Doesschate, the defender of Russian citizen Oleg Pulatov, claimed that the anonymity of the witnesses hinders the assessment of their testimony's reliability, as no one, including the judges, was aware of their background.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash
MH17, a Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board, was shot down on 17 July 2014 in eastern Ukraine, leaving no survivors. Most of the deceased were Dutch citizens. The authorities in Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in southeastern Ukraine have blamed each other for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight. The US, the UK, and Australia have supported Kiev’s accusations and claimed that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from a territory controlled by self-defence forces from the self-proclaimed republics that allegedly received the weapons from Russia.
Following the deadly crash, the US, the EU imposed sanctions against Russia, which they claimed could be responsible for the tragedy.
On 7 August 2014, a Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was created; Russia, however, was excluded from the international investigation for no reason.
The Dutch-led JIT probe concluded that the plane was downed by a Buk missile, claiming that it came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, based near the city of Kursk. The Russian Foreign Ministry has strongly refuted the conclusions as groundless and called the investigation "biased".
JIT, meanwhile, has announced the names of four suspects - three Russians and one Ukrainian citizen, claiming the four individuals were accomplices in delivering a Buk missile system to a launch site in eastern Ukraine that was used to hit the Boeing.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that JIT’s findings regarding the MH17 in eastern Ukraine were politically motivated and not supported by evidence. He also stated that Russia has been blamed for the incident since the very beginning of the investigation.