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: Issue 189
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/03/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: The Netherlands, Russia
  • Keywords: MH17

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