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ICC Lawyer Says MH17 Crash Probe Should Include Russia to Ensure Objectivity

© Sputnik / Maxim BlinovРеконструкция крушения лайнера Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines (рейс MH17) на Востоке Украины 17 июля 2014 года на военной базе Гилзе-Рейен в Нидерландах
Реконструкция крушения лайнера Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines (рейс MH17) на Востоке Украины 17 июля 2014 года на военной базе Гилзе-Рейен в Нидерландах - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.09.2021
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PARIS (Sputnik) - The Dutch-led investigation (JIT) into the 2014 crash of the MH17 Malaysian flight in eastern Ukraine should have included Russia as keeping it only to the affected countries could have prejudiced its course, Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, lead counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, told Sputnik.
During the hearing in the case held on 13 September, Dutch prosecutors said that Russia allegedly was not fully cooperating on the probe. At the same time, the JIT was the one to ban Moscow from participating in the international investigation.
"For the objectivity of the underlying investigation it would have been better to also have included Russia in the JIT. Now, only the "victim-states" have been involved in the investigation which can have influenced the course of the investigation," Knoops said.
While international law does not forbid the initiation of criminal proceedings in the country where the alleged injured party is residing — most of the victims were Dutch — it was nevertheless possible to choose a location for the trial outside the Netherlands, as a matter of objectivity, Knoops said, recalling the Pan Am flight 103 bombing in Scotland's southern Lockerbie town in 1988.
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"For instance, in the Lockerbie case, the international community opted for the trial against the two defendants taking place outside Scotland, namely within the Netherlands. This is therefore a matter of international diplomacy and negotiation rather than based on a rule of international law," he said.
Additionally, the Dutch law holds that victims of an alleged crime can address the court on the impact of this crime on their life but the court cannot use these statements as "evidence."
"Yet it can - when determining the potential punishment of the defendants - take these victims views into account," the ICC official said, noting that this can be done for two purposes — to decide on the potential penalty and for the issue of financial compensation in case the alleged victims did file such claims to the criminal court.
The Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysian Boeing crashed in July 2014 while flying over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, leaving all 298 people aboard dead. An international group of investigators has claimed that the plane was downed by a Buk missile belonging to the Russian armed forces — an allegation repeatedly denied by Moscow.
Russia said it has provided the Dutch investigators not only with Russian radar data but also the documents proving that the Buk missile, which hit the Boeing, actually belonged to the Ukrainian forces and was launched from the territory controlled by Kiev.
Legal proceedings began in the Netherlands on 9 March 2020, with three Russians and one Ukrainian as suspects: Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko. Court hearings on the case began in June.
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