A Dutch court docket on Thursday convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatist in absentia of the murders of 298 individuals who died within the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airways flight MH17 over Ukraine. One Russian was acquitted due to a scarcity of proof.
Presiding Decide Hendrik Steenhuis stated that proof offered by prosecutors at a trial that lasted greater than two years proved that the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was introduced down by a Buk missile fired by pro-Moscow Ukrainian fighters on July 17, 2014. The crash scattered wreckage and our bodies over farmland and fields of sunflowers.
Towards the geopolitical upheaval brought on by Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine, the court docket additionally held that Moscow had general management of the separatist Donetsk Folks’s Republic in japanese Ukraine, from the place it stated the assault was launched.
Not one of the defendants appeared for the trial that started in March 2020 and if they’re convicted, it’s unlikely they may serve any sentence anytime quickly. Prosecutors had sought life sentences for all 4. Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an enchantment.
Presiding Decide Hendrik Steenhuis opened Thursday’s listening to and stated “the court docket takes the view that the MH17 was introduced down by a Buk missile” launched from an agricultural area in japanese Ukraine.
The decide stated he would go on to rule on different authorized points and the guilt or innocence of the suspects later within the listening to.
Rigidity was excessive amongst households earlier than the listening to.
“The reality on the desk — that’s a very powerful factor,” stated Anton Kotte, who misplaced his son, daughter-in-law and his 6-year-old grandson when MH17 was shot down. He stated the listening to was a “D-Day” for relations.
Robbert van Heijningen, who misplaced his brother, sister-in-law and nephew, known as the downing “an act of barbarism” that he might by no means put behind him, whatever the verdict.
“I name it a stone in my coronary heart, and stones … don’t disappear,” he stated.
Not one of the suspects appeared for the trial that started in March 2020 and if they’re convicted, it’s unlikely they may serve any sentence anytime quickly. Prosecutors have sought life sentences for all 4. Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an enchantment.
The Hague District Court docket sat at a high-security courtroom at Schiphol Airport.
A whole lot of members of the family of individuals killed had traveled to the court docket to listen to the decision, bringing them again to the airport their family members left on the fateful day MH17 was shot down. Exterior the court docket, planes could possibly be heard taking off and touchdown close by on a chilly, grey day.
Dutch prosecutors say the missile launcher got here from the 53rd Anti-Plane Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces primarily based within the Russian metropolis of Kursk and was pushed again there after MH17 was shot down.
The suspects aren’t accused of firing the missile however of working collectively to get it to the sector the place it was fired. They’re accused of bringing down the aircraft and the homicide of all these on board.
Probably the most senior defendant convicted is Igor Girkin, a 51-year-old former colonel in Russia’s Federal Safety Service, or FSB. On the time of the downing, he was protection minister and commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Folks’s Republic — the area the place the aircraft was shot down. Girkin reportedly is presently concerned in Russia’s warfare on Ukraine.
Additionally convicted had been Girkin’s subordinates, Sergey Dubinskiy and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian who prosecutors say was commander of a pro-Russia insurgent fight unit and took orders straight from Dubinskiy.
Oleg Pulatovis the one one of many suspects who was acquited represented by protection legal professionals on the trial. They accused prosecutors of “tunnel imaginative and prescient” in basing their case on the findings of a global investigation into the downing whereas ignoring different potential causes.
In a video recording performed in court docket, Pulatov insisted he was harmless and instructed judges: “What issues to me is that the reality is revealed. It’s essential for me that my nation isn’t blamed for this tragedy.”