MH17-case can use statements of threatened witnesses

The statements of anonymous threatened witnesses can be used in the MH17-case, the council chamber of the District Court of The Hague has ruled. Lawyers of suspect Pulatov had appealed against the ruling of the examining magistrate to grant 13 witnesses in the MH17-case the ‘threatened witness’ status. They have been heard in the investigation into the downing of flight MH17.

Suspect Pulatov is being prosecuted together with three others for causing the crash of the plane, resulting in the death of all persons on board and the murder of those 298 persons.

These 13 witnesses have appeared into the investigation since 2014 and have been questioned by the examining magistrate since 2016. The council chamber ruled that the status of threatened witness is granted correctly.

Wrakstuk van het neergestorte vliegtuig

In the handling of one of the 13 witnesses a procedural defect has been established, therefore the granting of his status has been deleted and his statement to the examining magistrate cannot be used. The procedure of the other 12 witnesses has been followed correctly.

The  Netherlands Public Prosecution Service will reconsider if this witness has to be questioned again. Since the hearing of this witness in 2018 more witnesses have made statements at the examining magistrate, both anonymous as by name.

The prosecution is satisfied that the chamber acknowledged that in this case extraordinary measures are necessary, considering the enormous safety risks for witnesses.

The council chamber consists of other judges than the judges that handle the MH17 case. Both the independent council chamber and the examining magistrate now have ruled that these witnesses could and should be protected in this manner.