Investigators identify new ‘person of interest’ in 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines plane
More than five years after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, international investigators want to speak to a new “person of interest” in the case.
The man, Volodymyr Tsemakh, is being held by Ukrainian authorities and may be one of the prisoners Russia and Ukraine plan to swap, according to reports.
The investigative team — which is made up of prosecutors and detectives from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and Ukraine — wants authorities to keep him in custody for questioning. However, it was not immediately clear what role investigators believe he played.
The team is based in The Hague, the Dutch city that’s home to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, and it has indicted four people so far.
The suspects, three Russians and a Ukrainian, face murder charges and are scheduled to face trial in the Netherlands next March — even though it’s unlikely any of them would appear in court since their countries forbid the extradition of nationals.
All passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, also known as MH17, died on July 17, 2014, when a missile struck the Boeing 777 as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.
The four suspects awaiting trial are accused of obtaining the missile “with the goal to shoot a plane,” but they have not been charged with firing it.
Brechtje van de Moosdijk, a spokeswoman for the Joint Investigation Team, told The Associated Press that Tsemakh is currently in a Ukrainian jail, “but if he’s being swapped then, well, of course it’s hard to say that we can speak to him when he would be in Russia.”