The Working Group Truth Finding MH17 at September 10, 2019 wrote a letter to Ukrainian ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Chentsov. The working group represents some thirty families of victims of the shoot down of flight MH17, over Ukraine in 2014. Their letter responds to the release of a major witness and suspect by Ukraine last week, Mr. Tsemakh. His release and subsequent extradition to Russia was part of a prisoners swap with the Russian Federation.
In their letter to the ambassador, the families express regret about the release. They say it leaves them “with deep concerns about how serious Ukraine is with regard to finding the truth about the shoot down of flight MH17 and how high on the agenda bringing justice for all 298 civilians murdered over Ukrainian soil on July 17th 2014 actually is.”
The release last week was opposed by the Dutch prosecutors and by a large group of European MP’s. Afterwards, several countries have expressed their regrets, including the Netherlands and Australia.
The Working Group conclude by stating “We will not rest until justice is done. We count on Ukraine to be with us all the way.”
The letter can be read below:
To the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Netherlands
Wassenaar, September 9th 2019
Your excellency, dear mister Chentsov,
We, the Working Group Truth Finding MH17, are a group of relatives to victims of the attack on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. You may know us from our silent protests we held in front of the Russian Embassy in The Hague. We represent some thirty families from The Netherlands and abroad.
We are writing you with concerns about the recent release of a witness and possible suspect in the case of this 300-fold murder on defenceless civilians, Mr. Volodymyr Tsemakh.
We do appreciate your country’s deeply felt wish to restore peace and order of law. As no others, we appreciate the desire of prisoners to be back with their families. And indeed we appreciate the necessity for your country to get to terms about all this with the Russian Government. Finally, we do understand that getting to terms with Russia may somehow help finding the truth about MH17 (although apparent Russian demands to include this suspect in this prisoners swap suggest the opposite, for now).
However, as ‘MH17’ represents one of the most horrific acts of the conflict your country is trying to resolve, we do not understand this particular suspect’s release. Making him available for a court is an obligation all nations have according to UNSC Resolution 2166. We are especially puzzled when taking into account that Mr. Tsemakh is a Ukrainian citizen. We understand that being Ukrainian would have prevented him being extradited to a Dutch court, but apparently extradition to another foreign state is no problem. What rule of law is Ukraine trying to restore, one might wonder.
As we understand it, Mr. Tsemakh appears to have deep inside knowledge about what happened on that pitch black day. Knowledge we as families have a right to hear. Knowledge the world has a right to hear, as we have a joint obligation to prevent anything like this to happen ever again. Accordingly, ‘the world’ have expressed their concerns about releasing Mr. Tsemakh. Concerns your government have put aside – again, contrary to obligations to the UNSC and to all seeking the truth.
Although we have limited information, the release of mister Tsemakh leaves us with deep concerns about how serious Ukraine is with regard to finding the truth about the shoot down of flight MH17 and how high on the agenda bringing justice for all 298 civilians murdered over Ukrainian soil on July 17th 2014 actually is.
We hope you will convey our deeply felt concerns to your Government in Kiev, together with our equally deeply felt gratitude for the constructive role your country has been playing within the JIT in these past five years. We will not rest until justice is done. We count on Ukraine to be with us all the way.
the Working Group Truth Finding MH17