20:43 GMT15 May 2021
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    SCHIPHOL, (Sputnik) - A prosecutor on Friday asked the Dutch court hearing the case against four suspects in the downing of a Malaysian jet over Ukraine to reject a request by the defence to hear experts from a Russian arms maker, whose Buk missile was allegedly used to shoot the plane down.

    Thijs Berger argued that Almaz-Antey experts had been questioned before the investigating judge for a total of seven days over a two-week span, including in the presence of experts from the Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR) and the Royal Military Academy (RMA) of Belgium. He cited the investigative judge who said that the right of the defense team to question experts "is not without limits".

    "The defense’s request refers to a second individual interview that, according to the investigating judge, can only take place after the interview with all of the experts," Berger said.

    The final group interview, the prosecutor added, was intended to allow experts to react to the findings and conclusions of the other experts so that there would be a more in-depth discussion.

    "Having an in-depth discussion does not necessarily mean that extra questions will be put to Almaz-Antey… That would mean that extra statements would have again to be submitted to the NLR and the RMA, and this would not lead to more depth but to more width in the discussion — and that was not the intention of the court. This is why further interviewing of Almaz-Antey experts has to be denied," he said.

    Brechtje van de Moosdijk, spokeswoman for the Dutch National Public Prosecutor's Office, told Sputnik earlier that experts of Almaz-Antey will travel to the Netherlands next week for a new three-day questioning about the MH17 Boeing crash case.

    At a hearing on Thursday, lead judge Hendrik Steenhuis said that Almaz-Antey experts had already been interviewed individually and would next be interviewed before experts of the Netherlands Aerospace Center and the Royal Military Academy of Belgium.

    "It is next week, for three days in the chambers of the investigative judge, so there is no access for other people besides the experts, the lawyers and prosecutor," the spokeswoman said.

    Earlier in February, the The District Court of The Hague agreed that the reports written by Russian defence concern Almaz-Antey between 2015 and 2016 regarding the MH17 Boeing crash can be included in the case.

    MH17 Case

    Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed on 17 July 2014, in eastern Ukraine while on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch citizens. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republic in Ukraine's east have exchanged blame for downing the plane.

    Shortly after, the Netherlands set up a Joint Investigative Team (JIT) to inquire into the MH17 case.

    In 2018, the JIT released a report claiming that MH17 was shot down by the missile launched by DPR forces using a Buk launcher (which is manufactured by Almaz-Antey). According to the report, the launcher was delivered from Russia.

    It was later revealed by the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service MIVD's report that a total of twelve Buk installations were stationed in the wider area of ​​the crash site; of which three were Russian installations on the Russian side of the border and nine on the Ukrainian side of the border. 

    Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident and has called the JIT investigation biased, as Russia’s evidence showing that the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile has been ignored by investigators. Moreover, the court ignored the 2015 report by Almaz Antey in which the company said that flight MH17 was brought down by an old Buk missile, no longer produced by the Russian manufacturer. The report further suggested that such a missile could be used by the Ukrainian forces. 

    MH17, MH17 crash, plane crash, Almaz-Antey, Russia, Netherlands
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