Surprising events in the MH-17 investigation

Shortly after the beginning of the MH17 trial, senior prosecutor Fred Westerbeke became the head of the Rotterdam police, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigators was also dismissed.

Before the MH-17 process begins, everything seems to move. Fred Westerbeke, who headed the JIT investigation as a public prosecutor, also responsible for other investigations in the field of terrorism and organized crime, will become the head of the Rotterdam police force on April 1. The move is a remarkable decision shortly after the start of the process in early March, which is planned until 2021 and is expected to take place under strict security conditions.

According to the media reports, it does not appear to be known who will become Westerbeke's successor. The prosecutor replaces Frank Paauw, who became Amsterdam's chief of police in the spring. So there was a gap to fill, especially since Westerbeke had started his career as a police officer and then as a public prosecutor in Rotterdam. But taking him out of the job at the beginning of the politically high mammoth process suggests at least a change in attitudes. Was one not satisfied with Westerbeke's investigation, was he too fixated on Russia, but what the Dutch government was and is, or is it too lax?

Most recently, despite intervention by the Dutch government, Vladimir Zemak (Tsemakh), who was described as an important witness and ultimately a suspect, was lost due to the prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. He might have been the only witness / suspect who can be interviewed in court or through a video link. The four other suspects will not appear in court. Zemak, who is accused of participating in a terrorist organization (the "Donetsk People's Republic") and hiding the Buk system, which is on very shaky legs, had been kidnapped to Kiev by the Ukrainian secret service and was supposed to be there against offers, as he claims to testify against Russian suspects.

The new Ukrainian government considered the prisoner exchange more important than the MH17 witness. Now he is back in Donetsk and should not be extradited by Ukraine as a citizen (Dutch parliament calls for an investigation against Ukraine). The Dutch public prosecutor has announced that she sees Zemak as a suspect but does not yet know if she will file suit against him. This leaves the game open, but looks very tactical. Didn't Westerbeke want to play in it? Zemak himself has brought an action against the Netherlands before the ECJ.

There was also a surprising turnaround in Ukraine, if the information is correct, which Larisa Sargan, the former spokeswoman for the Attorney General Yuri Lutsenko, who was deposed by the new President Zelensky, recently shared on her Facebook. After that, the Ukrainian prosecutor, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigation team, was released. Apparently Westerbeke immediately went to Kiev and wanted to meet with the Attorney General Ruslan Rjaboshapka, who has been in office since August. But Sargan is said to have had no time for him, only his deputy, a colleague from the Netherlands.

She suspects that the Ukrainian secret service SBU wants to merge the investigation and that Russia could play a role in this. But it does not seem to be well-liked by the new government, so it is not necessary to believe its claims.

Florian Rötzer