Dutch court convicts three MH17 suspects, acquits one | MH17 News



Eight years after all 298 on board died, two Russians and a Ukrainian are sentenced to life in prison for murder.

A Dutch court has convicted three men associated with Russia and acquitted one for their alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The men – two Russians and a Ukrainian – were found guilty on Thursday by the court in The Hague of murder and deliberately crashing a plane in a highly secured courtroom at Schiphol.

All three — former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian separatist leader Leonid Kharchenko — were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment. A fourth suspect, Russian citizen Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted.

“Only the heaviest sentence is appropriate in retaliation for what the suspects have done, which has caused so much suffering to so many victims and so many relatives,” said judge Hendrik Steenhuis in a summary of the verdict.

It is unlikely that the three men will serve their sentences anytime soon as they remain at large. Prosecutors and the defendants have two weeks to appeal.

The verdicts came eight years after the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

At the time, pro-Russian separatist rebels and Ukrainian troops were engaged in a tense conflict – the prelude to this year’s war.

The plane was flying at 33,000 feet over eastern Ukraine when it was shot down [File: Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Relatives, Kiev welcome verdicts

Steenhuis said evidence presented by prosecutors at the trial, which began in March 2020, proved that MH17 was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile.

In another key finding, Steenhuis said the court held that Russia was in overall control of a separatist region in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic, at the time. The crash scattered wreckage and bodies across farmland and fields of sunflowers.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from the Netherlands, said hundreds of relatives of the victims of the 2014 crash were present in court to hear the verdicts.

“There is a great relief among them,” she said.

The court’s decisions were also welcomed by Kiev.

Ukrainian President Volodoymr Zelenskyy called the verdicts “important” but said those who were the “masterminds” for downing the plane must now also stand trial.

“Punishment for all RF [Russian Federation] atrocities then and now are inevitable,” he tweeted.

Moscow denies any involvement in or responsibility for the downing of MH17 and in 2014 also denied any presence in Ukraine.

At a briefing in Moscow on Thursday, deputy foreign ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev told reporters the government would investigate the court’s findings.

“We will study this decision because in all these issues every nuance matters,” he said.

The developments in the MH17 case come amid Russia’s nearly nine-month offensive in Ukraine, which saw explosions shake cities across the country on Thursday.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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