Netherlands set to prosecute suspects in MH17 airliner downing
Marje Pelayo • June 19, 2019 • 1603
REUTERS – International investigators are set on Wednesday (June 19) to launch criminal proceedings against suspects in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine nearly five years ago.
The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane’s destruction is to inform victims’ families of progress in their case on Wednesday morning, followed by a presentation to the media.
Dutch broadcasters RTL and NOS reported late last week that investigators would reveal the names of individual suspects. An Interfax Ukraine report on Tuesday quoted Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Olena Zerkal in an interview as saying prosecutors would name four “top” suspects.
MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014 over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed.
Most victims were Dutch. A joint investigation team formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.
The Russian government denies having lent any support to pro-Russia rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops and also denies any involvement in shooting down MH17.
Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said that Moscow was not to blame and that there are other explanations for what happened.
The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.
Prosecutors have previously said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.
They said their next step would be to identify individual culprits and to attempt to put them on trial.
The Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and Moscow is not expected to surrender suspects.
Dutch authorities have said suspects may be tried in absentia.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday (November 10) issued a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products originating from the village of Altforst in the Dutch province of Gelderland, the Netherlands.
According to DA, a veterinary report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality in The Hague said there is an outbreak of H5N8 highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in the area affecting parent broiler stock poultry.
Thus, the ban also covers poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen coming from the said village, the DA said.
In line with this, the processing, evaluation of application and issuance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance for the above products is also suspended.
Meanwhile, all incoming poultry meat shipments with SPS import clearance issued on or before October 30 will be allowed entry provided that the frozen poultry meat has a slaughter date of 21 days prior to the start of the outbreak on October 8.
All shipments that do not comply with the veterinary quarantine protocols will be confiscated.
The importation ban has taken effect on November 6 as signed by the DA Secretary William Dar.
Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.
In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.
Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.
Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.
Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.
In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.
In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.
“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.
Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.
Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.
Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)
A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometer from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday (April 13), citing satellite images.
Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.
Aerial images of the 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone around the plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smouldering trees.
The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, “did not exceed natural background levels.”
Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.
On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.
“According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares,” it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometre away from the defunct plant.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.
Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.
“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk,” Alimov said. “In this case we’re hoping for rain tomorrow.”
Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.
He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometres from where “the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.” He called on officials to warn people of the danger.
Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.
The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests.
Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.
It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires “for fun,” is partly or fully responsible. (Reuters)
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