‘BBC Russian Service’ reports suspect in the downing of Flight MH17’s arrest in unrecognized ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’
Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko — one of the four suspects accused in the trial for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 — has been arrested in Donetsk, the BBC Russian Service reported.
According to the BBC’s sources, Kharchenko was arrested near his home in Donetsk (eastern Ukraine) on March 11, and is still being held in a pre-trial detention center under the control of the “justice ministry” of the unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
“The charges are ridiculous — alleged participation in an illegal search in 2014 and illegal weapons possession. On the first point, the victims had no complaints against him. On the second, the state security ministry gave him this pistol in 2019 to ensure his own safety in connection with the MH17 case,” a source told the BBC Russian Service.
Kharchenko reportedly believes that he was arrested in order to isolate him, and to prevent the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) from abducting him, another source told the BBC.
Leonid Kharchenko was arrested just two days after the trial for the downing of Flight MH17 began in the Netherlands. All four of the accused in the case are being tried in absentia, and there are international warrants for their arrests. Kharchenko is also wanted on criminal charges in Ukraine; in 2015 the Ukrainian authorities accused him of establishing a terrorist group.