THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Defense attorneys for a Russian accused of alleged involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine in 2014 said on Tuesday that the nearly six-year investigation into the fatal incident is still not a definitive picture has yielded what happened and further investigation is needed.
The claim came during the trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of crimes, including murder, for their alleged involvement in what prosecutors allege was a missile strike that blew the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight out of the sky. all 298 passengers and crew died on board on July 17, 2014.
In an action that could significantly delay the trial, Dutch lawyers representing Russian suspect Oleg Pulatov asked for clarification and translation of evidence already produced by the prosecutors and for more investigations, including questioning over 100 witnesses.
Lawyer Sabine ten Doesschate said that she and the defense team would have more requests in the future to conduct further investigations after traveling to Russia to speak with Pulatov. She said lawyers were unable to visit Pulatov due to restrictions on the corona virus.
After years of investigations by an international team, prosecutors named four suspects last year: Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. None have appeared before their trial, which started in March and is still in a preparatory phase.
During public hearings earlier this month, prosecutors outlined in detail how the international investigation ruled out other theories and concluded that a Buk missile that invaded Ukraine from a Russian military base was used to bring down the plane.
But another Pulatov attorney, Boudewijn van Eijck, accused researchers of tunnel vision by focusing on that theory and not adequately investigating other possible causes, such as the possibility that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet or other missile.
Presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis suspends the case until Friday, when the judges are expected to rule on the defense requests.
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