The European Court of Human Rights has refused a request filed by Volodymyr Tsemakh to bar his extradition to the Netherlands from Russia. Dutch prosecutors are seeking Mr Tsemakh as a suspect in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 which resulted in the death of 298 people, 196 of whom where citizens of the Netherlands.
Ukrainian citizen Mr Tsemakh was first arrested in June 2019 in Ukraine as part of a raid by special forces. He was charged with terrorism offences for his role as commander of a separatist air defence unit in occupied Donbas. In September 2019, while sought for questioning by Dutch officials as a witness but not yet a suspect, Mr Tsemakh was traded as part of a prisoner swap with Russia.
The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service subsequently sought his extradition from Russia. Russian law prevents the extradition of its own citizens but as a non-national, Mr Tsemakh does not benefit from such protection. On 2 December 2019, Dutch authorities accused Russia of deliberately allowing Mr Tsemakh to leave the country to prevent his extradition to the Netherlands.
Mr Tsemakh’s is believed to have returned to Ukraine. His lawyer has expressed disappointment at the Strasbourg Court’s refusal to bar extradition but vowed to continue to fight such an outcome.