MH17 verdict: All defendants convicted in flight downing


AMSTERDAM – A Dutch court on Thursday convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian of murder for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board. and all crew members were killed.

The convictions of the defendants — two former Russian security service officials and a Ukrainian national who commanded pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine — implicated the Russian government. Moscow has long denied responsibility for the jetliner’s destruction and has refused to extradite the accused or cooperate with investigators. A third Russian defendant was acquitted.

The defendant did not attend the trial and was not detained. Among those convicted were Igor Girkin, a former colonel in Russia’s security service FSB who later served as defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic; Sergey Dubinsky; Leonid Kharchenko, the Ukrainian commander of separatist forces in Donbass.

They were sentenced to life in prison, although they may never be caught.

The fourth accused, Oleg Platov, who served in a special branch of the GRU, was acquitted due to insufficient evidence. Platov was the only defendant who sent a lawyer to defend him during the trial. He had previously applied to the court for acquittal, saying he had nothing to do with the incident.

The verdict on who fired a Buk surface-to-air missile that hit a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, leaving bodies and wreckage scattered over fields in eastern Ukraine comes after a lengthy verdict. years of investigation.

The incident, which took place during fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in an area, came weeks before the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in which several Ukrainian military jets were shot down.

Russia has long maintained that it was not a party to the conflict that erupted in Donbass in 2014, nor did it control pro-Russian militants in Donetsk, where the four accused held senior positions in separatist militias.

However, the court ruled that Moscow financed and armed separatist forces in Donetsk and generally controlled the separatist region and its authorities.

The court also found that the Buk launches were intentional, but the defendants likely believed they were firing at military aircraft.

“The verdict cannot bring the dead back to life,” said presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis. “But it has become clear who is to blame.”

Here’s what we know about the four suspects accused of shooting down flight MH17

After the verdict was pronounced, the family members of the victim wept and embraced each other.

“It was a good and balanced sentence, three of them received the maximum punishment and Russia’s role in it was confirmed,” said Piet Ploeg, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew. “Justice I feel relieved to be stretched.”

“We applaud, we’re happy that after eight years, we can finally hear the truth,” said Thomas Schansman, whose 19-year-old son Quinn was on the plane. “Many more could go to jail for this, but what I want now is for Putin and the Russian government to acknowledge their responsibility.”

Not only has the Kremlin denied involvement, it has sought to smear the investigation as politically biased. It has pushed for various explanations for how the plane was shot down, from blaming the Ukrainian government to dismissing fabricated evidence in the case.

In Russia’s first official comment on the verdict, the foreign ministry dismissed the decision as a “political order”.

Dutch investigators have gone to great lengths to debunk Moscow’s claims, releasing a detailed timeline of the strike and listing the roles The accused participated in the delivery of the missile system to the launch site in Pervomaiskyi and the subsequent downing of the aircraft.

Investigators shoot down jet over Ukraine, charge 4 suspects with ties to Russian intelligence, pro-Moscow militia

A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine this year could have been avoided if the international community had hit back harder at Moscow in the years since the plane was shot down, the families of many Flight 17 victims said.

“Despite evidence to the contrary, the West is happy to accept the idea that Ukraine’s separatist groups are not simply agents of the Russian Federation, so they can turn a blind eye to Russian aggression,” said Elliott Higgins, founder of Bellingcat , which linked the Buk missile system to Russia’s 53rd Air Defense Missile Brigade, shared its findings with Dutch investigators.

“Had the West stood up to Russian aggression in 2014, we might have avoided where we are today,” Higgins added.

Two days before the verdict, a missile landed on a Polish village near the Ukrainian border, killing two men. Warsaw said it was likely a rogue Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile, but the incident was yet another example of the deadly consequences of Russian aggression on innocent bystanders.

Gilkin, who served as commander of Kremlin-backed separatist forces in Donetsk, has boasted that he “pulled the trigger” of war in Ukraine. He lived safely in Russia for years, but recently disappeared in Moscow and was reported back to the front lines in Ukraine last month.

Gilkin, who is believed to be the most senior military officer in direct contact with Moscow when the plane was shot down, allegedly helped transport the Buk missile system. He has previously said he bears a “moral responsibility” for the mass death of passengers, but has denied any direct involvement.

In mid-October, Gilkin wrote on his popular Telegram blog that he had once again joined the “active-duty legion.” Gilkin often uses his blog as a platform to lash out at Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine. His wife, Myroslava Reginska, shared a photo of Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, in military uniform.

After reports that Gilkin had returned to the front line, Ukrainians launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise a $100,000 bounty for his capture.

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