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Defence lawyers seek more investigations into MH17 crash

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Sabine ten Doesschate and Boudewijn van Eijck, lawyers for Oleg Pulatov, at the high security court building in Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam. June 8, 2020
Sabine ten Doesschate and Boudewijn van Eijck, lawyers for Oleg Pulatov, at the high security court building in Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam. June 8, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Robin van Lonkhuijsen, POOL
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The trial on the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds in 2014, resumed on Monday in the Netherlands with defence lawyers calling for more investigations into the cause of the crash.

Three Russian nationals, Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and a Ukrainian citizen, Leonid Kharchenkom, have been charged with involvement in shooting down the Boeing 777, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.

Pulatov is the only defendant who has lawyers representing him in the trial, which is expected to continue at least into next year. His Dutch attorneys said Pulatov insists he is innocent.

The defence attorneys argued on Monday that prosecutors were not able to carry a proper forensic examination on the crash site as they attempted to cast doubt that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

“For that reason it can’t be ruled out that evidence went missing, was manipulated or even was augmented,” lawyer Boudewijn Van Eijck said as the defence listed their requests for future investigations.

Earlier this month, prosecutors had detailed how other theories had been ruled out in the international investigation.

“It certainly seems that they are extremely attached to the Buk missile scenario,” Van Eijck said.

Four suspects involved in the case

Prosecutors allege the four suspects were involved in deploying the missile, which prosecutors say was driven into Ukraine from a Russian military base.

Russia has consistently denied any involvement and has criticised the international investigation.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed in the downing, when a missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Moscow separatist rebels blew the passenger jet out of the sky.

The trial is taking place in the Netherlands because nearly 200 of the victims were Dutch citizens.

It began on March 9 but soon was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and resumed on June 8.

Sabine ten Doesschate, another lawyer for Oleg Pulatov, claimed that flight bans and other restrictions linked to the pandemic “had a major impact” on attempts to build his defence, including preventing lawyers from flying to Russia to interview him.