by John Helmer, Moscow
The presiding judge in the trial of the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 announced on Friday afternoon that he will not allow the evidence of Major-General Igor Konashenkov and other Russian Defence Ministry officers on the Ukrainian Army’s possession of the BUK missile alleged to be the weapon which shot down the aircraft, killing all 298 people on board.
Judge Hendrik Steenhuis declared that the Russian evidence revealed so far of the parts of the missile is limited to the manufacture of the weapon in Russia in 1986, and delivery of the weapon to a Ukrainian Army unit between December 1986 and early 1987. Steenhuis refused to allow Russian military intelligence to reveal where the missile was located between 1987 and July 17, 2014, when the Dutch prosecution claims the missile was fired by a Russian military crew at MH17.
“The defence wishes to interview these witnesses in order to establish the evidential value and credibility of the parts of the missile administration supplied by Russia,” Steenhuis announced. He refused to identify Russian Army generals Igor Konashenkov, the Defence Ministry spokesman, and Nikolai Parshin, head of the Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Directorate, whose detailed briefing on the missile parts, their origin, and their deployment in the Ukrainian Army was broadcast from the Defence Ministry in Moscow on September 18, 2018. “The court finds that the relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987. In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Gen. Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located in the year 2014. For that reason alone the court is of the opinion that interviewing this witness cannot be of importance for any decision to be taken in the criminal case of the accused. The request is therefore rejected.”
Steenhuis repeated to the letter the prosecution’s argument, presented in court on June 23, that the Russian evidence should not be allowed in the trial. The judge has opted to accept the Ukrainian Government’s claim that the missile was not in the Ukrainian Army’s inventory in 2014.
Steenhuis did not explain why he accepts the Ukrainian Army version;