Ukraine court releases MH17 ‘suspect’ pending trial

Ukrainian Vladimir Tsemakh, suspected of involvement in the downing of flight MH17, listens to the verdict of the court of appeal, during his hearing in Kiev on September 5, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 September 2019

Ukraine court releases MH17 ‘suspect’ pending trial

  • Ukraine captured Vladimir Tsemakh, accused of fighting for pro-Russian separatists, in June
  • He is believed to be a person of interest in the downing of MH17

KIEV: A court in Ukraine on Thursday released from pre-trial detention a man suspected of involvement in the downing of flight MH17, amid speculation he might be used in a prisoner swap with Russia.
Ukraine captured Vladimir Tsemakh, accused of fighting for pro-Russian separatists, in June, but he is believed to be a person of interest in the downing of MH17.
European lawmakers described him as a “key suspect” and asked Kiev to make him available for testimony in the probe.
An AFP journalist saw Tsemakh being released after appellate court judge Yury Sliva in Kiev ruled to release him, cautioning him to remain available for questioning and not attempt to flee.
Tsemakh is a Ukrainian who is believed to have been in charge of an air defense unit in the forces of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic near Snizhne in eastern Ukraine.
This is where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down in 2014, killing 298 people, most of them Dutch citizens.
Though his involvement in MH17 has never been confirmed by Ukraine, 40 European lawmakers on Wednesday asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to make sure he is available to be questioned by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team.
Russian and Ukrainian media have reported that Moscow is demanding that Tsemakh be handed over to Russia as part of an expected prisoner swap between two countries. Several high-profile Ukrainian prisoners are to be released from Russian jails under the swap.
Dutch MEP Kati Piri said demanding the exchange of Tsemakh is a “strange request” which “suggests that the Russian government wants to prevent this suspect from appearing in court.”
Dutch investigators say the plane was shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile that originated from the Russian military’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade after it was transported to Snizhne from Russia.


Trump to host next year's G7 summit at his Florida golf resort, White House says

Updated 1 min 53 sec ago

Trump to host next year's G7 summit at his Florida golf resort, White House says

  • Mulvaney told reporters the summit would take place at Doral on 2020, and that the administration selected Trump's resort
  • "Doral was by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting," he said at a news briefing

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump will host next year's Group of Seven economic summit of developed world leaders at one of his own properties, the Trump National Doral golf resort near Miami, a White House official said on Thursday.
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump would not profit from use of the property and defended the decision, which comes as the president faces ongoing criticism and congressional investigations over his finances and potential conflicts-of-interest.
Mulvaney told reporters the summit would take place at Doral on June 10-12, 2020, and that the administration selected Trump's resort after initially looking at about 12 potential locations in various other U.S. states.
"Doral was by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting," he said at a news briefing. "It's almost like they built this facility to host this event."
Mulvaney said the event would be "at cost" and that using the Trump site would save millions of dollars and was cheaper than the other potential sites.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president, over his son's business ties in Ukraine and China, which Trump has repeatedly called corrupt, without evidence.
Asked how the president's use of his private business properties to host official government events differed from Trump's allegations against the Bidens, Mulvaney told reporters there would be no profit and said the family had made their money before Trump became president in January 2017.
Trump has said he is not involved with the day-to-day operations of his private company and that his sons run the business.