MH17 trial: Russia refuses request to interview Kursk brigade commander in court
08.12.2021 17:15The District Court of The Hague says that Russia refused the request to interview Sergei Muchkayev, the commander of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade stationed in Kursk.
“The relevant request for the opportunity to interview Sergei Muchkayev was sent again on November 3. The answer was received on December 3. The Russian side refused the request to interview Sergei Muchkayev … Thus, the investigating judge concluded that Muchkayev’s interview is impossible, so an additional investigation has been completed,” presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said during today’s hearing at the Schiphol Judicial Complex, an Ukrinform correspondent in The Hague reports.
The judge added that Russia noted in its response that according to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the state has the right to refuse such an interview if it could harm the interests of the state. Russia points out that Muchkayev might have been asked about military information, which could have led to the disclosure of this information, which in turn could harm the interests of Russia, including the state secrets. Based on this, the Russian Federation refused the request to interview Muchkayev.
In November, the court expressed hope that Sergei Muchkayev, the commander of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, could be questioned by February 10, 2022. Instead, the Russian authorities have consistently ignored previous requests to interview Muchkayev.
Earlier, the lawyers of one of the four suspects, Oleg Pulatov, appealed to the court and insisted that attempts to interview Muchkayev be continued. Dutch prosecutor Thijs Berger said he saw no point in insisting on Muchkayev’s interview because Russia did not want to provide any information about the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, therefore it was pointless to wait for the opportunity to interview Muchkayev.
As reported, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over occupied area of Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. All of them died. The international Joint Investigation Team reported that the plane had been shot down from a Buk missile system that belonged to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.
On June 19, 2019, the JIT named four suspects believed to be involved in the transportation and combat use of the Buk missile system, from which MH17 flight had been downed. Three of them are Russians: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service and former so-called defense minister of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”; Sergey Dubinskiy, general (at the time of downing – colonel) of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and head of the so-called “Main Intelligence Directorate of the Donetsk People’s Republic”; Oleg Pulatov, lieutenant colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The fourth suspect is Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian civilian, who fought on the side of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic.
In March 2020, the District Court of The Hague began the consideration of the case over the downing of Flight MH17.