In Ukraine, the six prosecutors investigating the MH17 disaster were relieved of their duties. Among them are also the two officers who were in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on behalf of Ukraine. The Zelensky government wants to tackle corruption within the judiciary with the reorganization.
The reorganization comes at a striking moment: the MH17 process in the Netherlands will start next month. “But the resignation does not seem to have any consequences for that process,” said correspondent David Jan Godfroid.
“The officers involved had already completed their investigation and the case is being handled in the Netherlands by a Dutch public prosecutor.”
As a result of the reorganization, 710 of the 1339 officers in the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office have been fired. “The Ukrainian OM is notorious because of corruption,” says Godfroid.
Of the six officers who investigated the MH17 disaster, five were fired. One of the six, Oleh Peresada, is still involved in the investigation, but is no longer a public prosecutor. The National Public Prosecutor says in NRC that the Netherlands has received the guarantee that Peresada will remain connected to the JIT. “This guarantees the historical awareness of this research,” the National Public Prosecutor tells the newspaper. Olesja Skrypnyk, who has been involved with the JIT since 2016, has been fired.
MH17 researcher Roman Hosjovsky tells that his successors will certainly need a year to read.
“Nobody knows the file that we have built up in five years.”
David Jan Godfroid believes that the lawyers of the suspects will use the resignation of the officers in the trial.
“If I were a lawyer, I would know. They can say that the documents submitted were compiled by people who apparently were unreliable.”
On 8 March, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Australia, Belgium and Malaysia renew the JIT agreement, after which new Ukrainian prosecutors can be appointed. A day later, the MH17 trial starts in the highly secured court in Schiphol. Three Russians and a Ukrainian are suspected of being involved in the downing of the plane in July 2014.