A Dutch judge who tried to influence the court presiding over the recent MH17 trial by spreading a conspiracy theory among them has been given a formal reprimand by the Supreme Court.
Judge Charlotte van Rijnberk, who works at the court of appeal in The Hague, distributed a book written by her brother to judges and prosecutors involved in the MH17 case, the Financieele Dagblad has reported.
The book’s author, who used a pseudonym, argues that flight MH17 was not downed by a Russian missile at all in 2014, as the Dutch Safety Board and the public prosecutor had concluded. Instead, he claims the plane was shot down by the Ukrainian authorities, the FD said.
Describing the trial as the result of corruption, the aim of the book, the author said on the cover, was to make sure the court case proceeded with different public prosecutors and different suspects.
The judge herself described the findings of the MH17 investigation as “a deliberate and transparent cover-up” and said some of the data used was “manipulated and a lie”, broadcaster NOS reported. According to the FD, she also wrote to judges and court officials in an attempt to influence the proceedings.
The Supreme Court said in its decision to reprimand the judge that she had tried to influence the judges and the course of the MH17 trial. In doing so, she undermined confidence in the authority and impartiality of the judiciary, the court said.
Van Rijnberk has now been transferred to another department but was not sacked because she had accepted that her behaviour was wrong.
Judges determined last year that flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian Buk missile over Ukrainian territory. All 298 occupants died in the disaster, including 196 Dutch nationals.
Three of the four people accused of facilitating the disaster were found guilty and the fourth acquitted by The Hague court last November. None were in the Netherlands for the trial and no one has launched an appeal.