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Netherlands Asked Ukraine Not to Hand Over to Russia Key Suspect in MH17 Downing

In a letter to parliament, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the Dutch government contacted Ukraine "several times and at the very highest level" in an effort to prevent the handover of Vladimir Tsemakh, believed to be an air defence specialist for pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.

AFP

Updated:September 7, 2019, 6:49 PM IST
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Netherlands Asked Ukraine Not to Hand Over to Russia Key Suspect in MH17 Downing
A piece of the wreckage, seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Petropavlivka. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
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The Hague: The Netherlands pressed Kiev hard to drop the handover to Russia of a key figure in the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and regrets it was done, the government said on Saturday.

The Dutch government contacted Ukraine "several times and at the very highest level" in an effort to prevent the handover of Vladimir Tsemakh, believed to be an air defence specialist for pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a letter to parliament, adding that he "regretted" Kiev's decision.

MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a Russian-made missile in July 2014 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board, two-thirds of them Dutch.

Blok said the authorities had had the opportunity to question Tsemakh before he left for Russia but the Netherlands still profoundly regretted the outcome.

Russia had insisted that Tsemakh be handed over and consistently rejects any suggestion that it had a role in the disaster. "The government notes once again that Russia is supposed to cooperate" with the investigation, Blok added.

Earlier Saturday, Russia and Ukraine carried out a long-awaited swap of 70 prisoners in a deal hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a "first step" towards ending their conflict.

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