Disinfo: Russian defendant in MH17 trial denied access to own case file

Summary

Since the Dutch court presiding over the MH17crash case is not obligated to translate all the case materials — with the case file consisting of 36,000 pages — the sole Russian defendant represented at the trial may be left without the possibility to study all the documents.

According to a court representative, if the defendants are present in the courtroom and cannot understand Dutch or English, the judge will provide a certified interpreter. Translation of the file case can be provided by the lawyer of the defendants, but not by the court. The court is in Dutch, so all files and hearings will be in Dutch. No translation other than an interpreter is obligatory.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative aiming to discredit the investigation of the Joint International Team (JIT) into the downing of flight MH17.

The report implies that without access to the entire 36,000-page case file, the accused Russian national will not be able to mount an effective defence. It also falsely claims that translation of case files and any other relevant documents can only be provided by the lawyer of the defendant.

A 10 March statement by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service provides an exhaustive refutation of these concerns, and is thus worth citing at length:

"Before this hearing, the Public Prosecution Service provided a Russian translation of the notice of summons and accusation and the general account. That account is a detailed summary of the case file comprising (in the Dutch version) 147 pages. This took a considerable amount of time. In addition, the Public Prosecution Service has undertaken to provide a Russian translation of the personal case file: an overview of the investigation with regard to the defendant Pulatov of (in the Dutch version) 68 pages. [...] The Public Prosecution Service believes that these documents will provide the defendant with sufficient insight into the charges and the evidence adduced by the Public Prosecution Service. On the basis of these documents and the further discussion of other information in the case file in the consultations with his counsel (with the aid of an interpreter or his Russian lawyer), the defendant should be able to carefully determine the course of action he wishes to adopt during the proceedings."

The statement also makes it clear that translation of other, non-essential documents must be separately requested by the defence counsel, along with an explanation "why the defence considers translation necessary. This is in accordance with Dutch (article 32a, paragraph 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) and European legislation [Article 3, paras. 1-4 of Directive 2010/64/EU]."

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue189
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, The Netherlands
  • Keywords: MH17
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MH17 investigation: Malaysia is sidelined, no proofs of Russian implication

JIT investigation of MH17 downing did not bring any results except indirect proofs against Russia based on information presented by the allegedly independent Bellingcat group. The JIT repeatedly ignored not only proofs gathered by independent journalists and experts but even by the participants of the investigative process. From the very onset, Malaysia was brutally sidelined from the investigation because its opinion differed from the policy of accusing Russia. Malaysian experts were not allowed to the Boeing crash spot and were not informed about the investigation process.

Disproof

The report advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the MH17 crash. Malaysia was not sidelined from the investigation process as alleged. Malaysia's Prosecutor's office cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Speaking at the press conference of the JIT on June 19, 2019, the deputy Prosecutor General of Malaysia, Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria, reiterated Malaysia's commitment to the JIT in seeking justice for the victims and stated that the JIT findings were based on extensive investigation and legal research. [See at 57:30 - 58:14]

On the 24th of May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service are prosecuting Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov, and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the crash of the MH17 and murdering the 289 persons on board. The public hearing started on March 9th 2020 in the Netherlands.

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