Yesterday and today were dedicated to the response from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to the requests for additional investigation presented by the defence on 3, 4 and 5 November. The PPS is of the opinion that one request may be granted, and that all other requests are to be set aside.
Requests for additional investigation submitted by the defence in the June 2020 block of hearings, on which decisions have yet to be taken, were discussed as well. The PPS submitted some applications as well, to which the defence responded.
Main points of the response from the PPS to the new requests
The PPS says that it has already conducted much of the investigation requested by the defence. In addition, in the view of the PPS, the importance or necessity of several requests has not been sufficiently substantiated. The PPS has noted that the mere fact that a suspect disagrees with the outcome of an investigation or a witness statement is not enough to allow additional investigation. The PPS has asserted that investigation should provide clarification or relevant information, so that it may contribute toward ascertaining the truth. Requests to examine fellow accused who thus far have not responded at all or have stated via the media that they are unwilling to cooperate are to be rejected, because examining them is unlikely to be possible (within an acceptable time frame). The same holds true for the requests for witnesses who according to various reports are no longer alive.
The PPS played the video that appeared online of an interview with one of the fellow accused. The statement by that fellow accused in that interview is reason to assume that that fellow accused may now be willing and able to answer questions that will be conducive toward ascertaining the truth. The PPS therefore believes that the request from the defence to examine this fellow accused as a witness should be granted.
In response to the request from the defence regarding the complaint submitted by the Dutch government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the Russian Federation, the PPS has noted its duty of independence and impartiality in the Dutch legal system. The PPS has indicated that truth and justice are the objective, and that it has the discretion to adjust its view on the matter, if the investigation gives cause to do so. Moreover, the PPS emphasizes that those proceedings are separate from these criminal proceedings, and that they address a different question than these criminal proceedings do.
Previous requests from the defence
On 3 July 2020 the court had not yet taken a decision on a considerable number of previous requests for additional investigation, because awaiting the position of the accused in the proceedings was important for these decisions. In a letter the defence addressed those requests and withdrew a few of those requests. The PPS responded to this, also in view of the statement by the accused that the defence showed last week.
Applications by the PPS
The PPS has demanded that the videotaped statements by two of the accused, which were played in court during this block of hearings, be added to the file of all four accused. The PPS has also demanded that a complete transcript of those videos that has been checked again for accuracy be added to the files. Additionally, the PPS repeated a previously rejected request to instruct the investigating judge to make a compilation of the recording of the examination of one of those questioned, who, according to the PPS, is an important witness. The idea is to play this recording at the hearing on the merits.
The defence objects to granting the application previously rejected concerning the recording of the witness examination. The defence is moreover of the opinion that the videos the PPS showed in court may be added to the file, only if they may be subjected to investigation.
In the cases of the three accused that did not appear and had no legal counsel to support them, the court decided that the videos recorded and shown by the defence of a statement from their client will be added to the case files with a proper transcript.
Request from the Counsel for the Relatives
The Counsel for the Relatives has asked to receive documents in addition to those received thus far.
What lies ahead
On 25 November 2020 the court shall decide which requests from the defence and which applications from the PPS will, and which will not be granted. If this is not possible for all requests, the court will decide how to proceed with those requests.
The cases against the other three accused will continue on 1 February 2021.