Dutch prosecutors have accused Russia of deliberately allowing a suspect in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to leave the country in a breach of a European extradition treaty.

Prosecutors announced on Monday that Volodymyr Tsemakh is considered a suspect in the shooting down of the passenger plane and deaths of all 298 passengers and crew. He has not been charged with any offences.

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Tsemakh, a Ukrainian who was questioned by investigators probing the downing of the flight known as MH17 while in custody in Ukraine, was handed to Russia as part of a prisoner swap in September.

Dutch prosecutors say they asked Russia to arrest Tsemakh so he could be extradited. However, he is now believed to have returned to eastern Ukraine.


Prosecutors say Russia "willingly allowed Mr. Tsemakh to leave" the country.

Nelson woman Sharlene Ayley's husband Robert was among the 298 passengers and crew on the Malaysia Airlines plane, all of whom died in the July 17 atrocity.

Robert Ayley and Sharlene Ayley. Photo / supplied
Robert Ayley and Sharlene Ayley. Photo / supplied

Four suspects were charged in June with murder over the downed flight MH17, including a former Russian officer.

The suspects were named as Igor Girkin, a former colonel of the Russian Federal Security Service; Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, who worked for the Russian Military Intelligence Service; and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian former commander.

All four were officials in the pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic, which is fighting for independence from Ukraine.

The trial in the Netherlands will begin on March 9, 2020, Dutch National Police chief Wilbert Paulissen announced at a press conference in the Utrecht province given by the Joint Investigation Team.

Investigators including Australian authorities accused the four suspects of transporting the Buk missile that struck the passenger plane and killed all 298 people on board as it flew over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

MH17 was shot down while flying over the Ukraine, killing all on board. Photo / AP
MH17 was shot down while flying over the Ukraine, killing all on board. Photo / AP

The investigation team said in May 2018 that the Buk anti-aircraft missile that hit the Boeing 777 had originated from the 53rd Russian military brigade based in Russia's southwestern city of Kursk, about a day's drive over the border from the crash site.


Westerbeke said he was sure the Russian government, which developed the Buk missile, knew what happened. "They could have told us what happened," he said. "They didn't. I wouldn't call this cooperation."