DeepL Translator said:MH17 suspect Tsemach extradited to Russia
Despite an explicit call from the Netherlands to keep the separatist commander available for questioning, Ukraine has agreed to Russia's request.
Guus Ritzen, Christiaan Paauw &Lisa Dupuy September 7, 2019 at 10:03 a.m.
The former separatist commander and MH17 suspect Volodymyr Tsemach was extradited from Ukraine to Russia on Saturday, despite an appeal from the Netherlands not to do so. As previously suspected, he had been included in an important exchange of prisoners between the two countries, which had been under negotiation for weeks. Minister Stef Blok (VVD, Foreign Affairs) "deeply regrets" that Tsemach was "extradited under pressure from the Russian Federation", he writes in a letter.
The Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office has insisted that Tsemach be detained. Ukrainian authorities then postponed the exchange, so that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) could further question the accused. That is said to have have happened. Tsemach would have been involved in hiding the BUK installation that shot MH17 out of the air.
According to Ukraine, the exchange could not have taken place without the MH17 suspect. Both countries allowed 35 prisoners to leave for the neighboring country. The two aircraft carrying the prisoners arrived in Moscow and Kiev on Saturday afternoon. President Zelensky was at the arrival of the prisoners in Kiev, he called it a "new chapter" in relations with Russia and a "first step" to end the war in Eastern Ukraine.
The Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office is said to have asked Russia by now to extradite Tsemach. Press agency ANP writes that the Ministry of Justice has informed the survivors of the air disaster of this step. The European Union regrets that the MH17 suspect has been transferred to Moscow. "We call on Russia to cooperate fully with all efforts to establish responsibility for the tragic shooting down of MH17", an EU spokesman informs the ANP.
Witnesses reported to the international press agencies AP and Reuters in the morning that people were being picked up at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow by two buses. They were taken to Vnukovo International Airport, where, according to the Interfax press service, a Ukrainian aircraft had previously landed. A Russian aircraft was also at the ready in Ukraine.
Among the prisoners handed over by Russia are the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were arrested in November, after their ship had been boarded by the Russian navy in Kerch Street. The Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has also been released. The director was detained [in Dutch] because of his criticism of the Russian annexation of the Crimea.
At the end of the morning the Russian press agency TASS quoted a Ukrainian government spokesman, who said: "The Russians have left." This group, which has now been brought from Kiev to Moscow, also included the separatist commander Volodymyr Tsemach (and Ukrainian citizen). The suspect in the MH17 case, who is being prosecuted for his participation in the war in Eastern Ukraine, was unexpectedly released on Thursday.
Continue with negotiations
Negotiations on the exchange of prisoners began at the end of June, when the newly elected Ukrainian President Zelensky made a request to his Russian counterpart Putin for the release of the sailors [in Dutch] and Sentsov. French President Macron is also pushing for further negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Last week, it was announced that the Heads of State had completed discussions on the exchange by telephone. These talks could be a first step towards broader negotiations on the war in the Donbas, where the Ukrainian army and Russian-supported separatists have been fighting for five years now. The conflict has now cost the lives of some 13,000 people.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
DeepL Translator said:Russia openly obstructs MH-17 trial, the Netherlands fishes behind the net in the exchange of prisoners
The Netherlands has become the losing party in a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. With the transfer of Vladimir Tsemach to Moscow, a witness and possible suspect in the MH17 trial became out of reach of the court in The Hague.
Tom Vennink 8 September 2019, 15:55
Never before has the Kremlin taken such an ostentatious measure to thwart the MH17 process. On paper, Tsemach has no connection whatsoever with Russia: he is a Ukrainian citizen and lives in the east of Ukraine. The only thing that seems to link him to Russia is his possible involvement in the shooting of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.
Tsemach was then commander of the air defense in Snizhne, near the launch site of the BUK rocket that shot the plane with 298 passengers out of the air. In an interview with a Russian Cossack Association he said he helped to hide the BUK installation. If that is true, he may know who was in charge of the installation and if there were people from the Russian army there. Chief Public Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke called Tsemach 'extremely important' for the trial.
Now that Tsemach is in Russia, the Kremlin does not have to fear that he will tell his story in the court in The Hague that will start the trial on 9 March. Also, a trial without suspects in court is easier to ignore for Russia.
However, a new confrontation with the Netherlands is imminent. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service informed relatives this weekend that the Service has requested Russia to extradite Tsemach. This makes the first real extradition request to Moscow a fact. Before, the Public Prosecution Service asked Russia only to summon other suspects, because the Russian constitution forbids the extradition of subjects. But Tsemach is Ukrainian: Russia is allowed to hand him over.
There is little chance that Russia will do so. The Kremlin has made no attempt to subpoena the other suspects [in Dutch] - they walk freely. But the question is how Russia will justify a refusal of the extradition request now that it cannot invoke the constitution.
Vladimir Tsemach. EPA image
Dutch government parties reacted astonished to Tsemach's transfer. CDA Member of Parliament Chris van Dam said he doubted whether the Netherlands could still count on Ukraine to cooperate in the investigation. The VVD called the transfer of Tsemach 'an enormous setback for the criminal investigation'.
On the other hand, the international community just applauded the exchange of prisoners. The American President Trump spoke of 'very good news', the German Chancellor Merkel of 'a sign of hope'. EU foreign head Federica Mogherini said she expected 'all parties to build on this momentum'.
They see the exchange of seventy prisoners as a step towards peace in eastern Ukraine. Release of prisoners is a requirement in the Minsk agreements to end the war in which 13 thousand people lost their lives, and more still die every week.
According to the new Ukrainian President Zelensky, Moscow did not agree to the deal without Tsemach. He says that Tsemach was interrogated several times by the Dutch Public Prosecutor prior to his extradition. This was done in consultation with various European leaders, Zelensky said on Saturday. "We did everything that was demanded of us. It was very difficult. I was very afraid that the deal would fail as a result."
The return of 35 fellow countrymen has great emotional significance for Ukrainians. The reunion with family members at the airport was broadcast live on TV. One of the released, director Oleg Sentsov, spent more than five years in a Russian penal colony in the Arctic Circle. It is not entirely clear which 35 people Ukraine has transferred to Russia.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Dutch did question MH17 witness before he was returned to Russia: minister
September 8, 2019
A potential key witness in the MH17 investigation who was released by Ukraine at the weekend was questioned [in Dutch] by Dutch officials before he left for Moscow, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok has told MPs.
Vladimir Tsemakh, 58, was arrested in a separatist-held part of Ukraine earlier this year. He is said by investigators to have had a key role with Russian-backed Ukrainian rebel forces.
Flight MH17 was shot down by a Buk missile over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board. Most of the people on board were Dutch and the investigation into what happened is being led by Dutch officials.
The international investigation team said in 2016 that the missile had been brought from Russia and fired from a field controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
Tsemakh was arrested and charged with terrorism offenses at the end of June.
The prisoner exchange, reported by both the Russian and Ukrainian state news agencies, involved 35 Russians and 35 Ukrainians.
Blok told MPs in a statement on Saturday that the prisoner exchange had been delayed to allow officials from the Dutch public prosecution service to question Tsemakh. ‘The Netherlands applied pressure at the highest diplomatic and political levels’ to keep Tsemakh in Ukraine, Blok said.
Although officials were able to question him, the Netherlands regrets that he has been included in the prisoner exchange, under pressure from the Russian authorities, Blok said.
Earlier this year, the Netherlands issued arrest warrants for four men – three Russians and a Ukrainian – on murder charges. Tsemakh is not among these suspects but is considered a ‘person of interest’.
Resch has already been interviewed by the German media on the subject of MH17 and wrote a book on his investigation, but has not previously mentioned that he knows the specific names, as well as that he is ready to release the U.S. satellite data. In an interview with RIA Novosti, he also said that the German government knew that important information on the MH17 disaster was hidden from the public. JIT led by the Dutch prosecutor’s office was skeptical to Resch words, as were many media outlets. There are indeed many questions about his investigation, as many of his statements are full of misinformation. During Resch interview, he repeatedly refused to answer direct questions and even wanted to stop the conversation a couple of times. RIA Novosti’s correspondents met him at a hotel in Lübeck on the German North Sea coast, and his business partner and bodyguard Mustafa Afshar, who, according to Resch, had previously served in the Bundeswehr Special Forces, was present at the interview. The detective himself, who had previously been threatened in connection with his investigation, said he still does not feel safe. Afshar, or as Resh himself calls it, Mossy, also gave some explanations during the conversation.
Search at Resch’s house and inspection of his safe deposit boxMr. Resch, why did you send an open letter to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in July 2019 stating your readiness to provide information, and why didn’t you do it before?
It lasts about five years, and as you know, I wrote a book (autobiography “Danger is my profession”. – Editor’s note), and the book became a starting point. The flag was thrown away, and it attracted attention from the authorities whether it was the Netherlands or not, I don’t know.
Approximately 18-19 February 2016, a search warrant was requested for me and it was approved. I passed as a witness, not as a defendant. On February 26 (2016 – Editor’s note) my book was published and on March 15 there was a search. I was not present, I was at Lake Tegernsee, where there were memorial events in connection with the death of my parents, my wife was at home with our son. Twelve people from the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Lübeck Police Department came. They were wearing protective vests and carrying weapons and searched the house to find some of the MH17 documents.
Then the following happened: they opened the safe, where nothing important was ever stored, no money. There they found paper about a safe deposit box in a Swiss bank. They then informed the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands at 4 p.m. the same day.
The Dutch public prosecutor’s office immediately asked the Swiss for help in making an arrest on the account and safe deposit box. They managed to do so. My lawyer in Switzerland protested this, but I told him to leave it as it is, as it would cost extra money, and the box would still be opened, and some wouldn’t be happy as a result…