Dutch court sentences three to life in prison for 2014 downing of MH17 over Ukraine

  • 298 passengers and crew died in the accident
  • The court confirmed that the Russian missile shot down the plane
  • Those who were convicted are refugees who believe in Russia

Amsterdam November 17/2011 Dutch judges Two Russians and a Ukrainian man who shot down flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 passengers and crew, have been sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter in absentia. .

Ukraine welcomed the ruling and said it would have implications for other court cases Kyiv has brought against Russia, with Moscow calling the ruling “shameful” and saying it would not extradite its citizens.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in 2011. On July 17, 2014, he was shot in eastern Ukraine during fighting between pro-Russian forces and Ukrainian forces that sparked this year’s conflict.

The decision came as a relief to the victims’ families, with more than 200 attending the hearing in person, wiping away tears as the verdict was read.

“Only the most severe punishment is appropriate in retaliation for the actions of the suspects, which caused great suffering to many victims and many of their surviving relatives,” said Chief Justice Hendrik Steenhuis.

The three men convicted are former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian separatist leader Leonid Karchenko.

All three have been helping arrange the transport to Ukraine of the Russian military BUK missile used to shoot down the plane, although they did not physically pull the trigger.

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They are believed to have fled and are in Russia. A fourth former suspect, Russian Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted of all charges.

In the year The 2014 incident left the wreckage of the plane and the remains of the victims scattered over corn and sunflowers.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February and says it took control of the Donetsk region where the plane was shot down.

“The families of the victims wanted the truth and they wanted justice and those responsible to be punished and that’s what happened. I’m very satisfied,” Piet Ploeg, who heads a foundation representing victims, told Reuters. Plog’s brother, his brother’s wife and his nephew died on MH17.

Australian Meryn O’Brien, who lost her 25-year-old son Jack, said she was relieved. “Everyone was relieved that the process was over, and it was very fair, and it was careful.”

“There is no celebration,” said Jordan Withers of Britain, whose uncle Glenn Thomas died. “There’s nothing that takes back victims.” They are from 10 different countries.

The judgment includes a compensation award of 16 million euros.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the initial sentences handed down over MH17 by the court in The Hague as an “important decision”.

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But it is important that those who gave the order also get on board because the feeling of punishment leads to new crimes, he wrote on Twitter. “We must get rid of this illusion. For all Russian atrocities – then and now – it will be inevitable.”

The decision confirmed that since mid-May 2014, Russia has had “overall control” over the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

“This is significant,” said Marieke de Hoon, assistant professor of international law at the University of Amsterdam. The decision was “binding” and probably in 2015. It could raise Ukraine’s other international concerns related to the 2014 conflict.

‘No Reasonable Doubt’

Judge Steenhuis said there was sufficient evidence from eyewitnesses and photographs that tracked the movement of the missile system from Ukraine to Russia.

“There is no reasonable doubt that MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile,” Steenhuis said.

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

“The court was pressured by Dutch politicians, prosecutors and the media to produce unprecedented political results,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened that the District Court in The Hague has disregarded the principles of impartial justice in light of the current political climate and has cast a heavy shadow on the entire justice system in the Netherlands,” he added.

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In a trial conducted under Dutch law, prosecutors charged that more than half of the victims were Dutch in the four-man shooting down of an airplane. A key piece of evidence was wiretapping that led the men to believe they were targeting a Ukrainian fighter jet.

Stenhuis said, while that counts for one thing in terms of mitigating the severity of their criminal responsibility, they still had intent to kill and the consequences of their actions were significant.

Among the suspects, only Pulatov pleaded not guilty through the lawyers he hired to represent him. The others were tried in absentia and no one attended the hearing.

The police investigation was led by the Netherlands, with the participation of Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium.

Thursday’s verdict is not the final word on holding people responsible for MH17, Dutch and Australian officials said.

Andy Cragg, head of police investigations, said investigations into suspects higher up the chain of command were continuing. Investigators are also looking into the crew of the missile system that launched the deadly rocket.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia, which blame Russia, have begun filing charges against the Russian Federation at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Reporting by Toby Sterling, Stephanie van den Bergh and Bart Meyer; Editing by John Boyle, Alex Richardson, Toby Chopra, Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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