SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) – Lawyers for the defense of a Russian accused of involvement in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine in 2014 on Monday cast doubt on the allegations made by prosecutors that the passenger plane had been shot down by a Buk plane missile.
The comments came when Oleg Pulatov’s Dutch defense attorneys began listing their requests for further investigation in the international investigation into the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014.
Defense attorney Boudewijn van Eijck pointed out to judges that prosecutors were unable to conduct forensic investigations or conduct forensic investigations in a region controlled by pro-Russian rebels who fought against the Ukrainian government.
“For that reason, it cannot be excluded that evidence has been missing, manipulated or even increased,” said Van Eijck.
The trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of murdering all 298 passengers killed on the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight is still at an early stage, when defense attorneys can ask the judges for further investigation. to order.
None of the suspects have gone to trial. Only one, Pulatov, has lawyers representing him in court. All suspects are sentenced to maximum life imprisonment.
After years of investigation, an international team of detectives and prosecutors last year named four suspects: the Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Pulatov, as well as the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
Earlier this month, prosecutors outlined in detail how the international investigation ruled out other theories and concluded that a Buk missile entering Ukraine from a Russian military base was used to shoot down the plane.
But Van Eijck accused researchers of tunnel vision by focusing on that theory and insufficiently investigating other possible causes, such as the possibility that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian jet fighter.
“It certainly seems that they are very attached to the Buk missile scenario,” says Van Eijck.
Another lawyer, Sabine ten Doesschate, asked judges to order new investigations, including interviews with witnesses who claimed to have seen fighter jets in the sky around the time MH17 was shot down, suggesting that the Ukrainian Air Force could have used passenger aircraft as ” human shields ”for his warplanes.
She also asked for more research into radar images from the day of the downturn.
Van Eijck also questioned the reliance on the international investigation of information from Ukraine to build the case against the four suspects, saying that a Ukrainian prosecutor had wanted to prove that Russia was involved.
“That doesn’t reflect the willingness and determination to find out the truth,” said Van Eijck.
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