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 absentee 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 — have 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.

None of the defendants were taken into custody. Those convicted were Igor Girkin, a former colonel of the Russian security service FSB, who later served as defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic; Sergey Dubinsky, a former officer of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU; 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, the only defendant in the trial to have a lawyer representing him, had previously asked the court to acquit him, saying he had no involvement in 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 the Donetsk People’s Republic and generally controlled the breakaway region and its authorities.

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

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

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

The Kremlin has always vehemently denied any involvement in the downing of Flight 17 and has sought to smear the investigation into the incident 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.

Dutch investigators have gone to great lengths to debunk the 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 the group’s founder, Elliott Hirsch. Kings said. Bellingcat Survey Group. Bellingcat used open source intelligence to link the Buk missile system to Russia’s 53rd Air Defense Missile Brigade and shared its findings with Dutch investigators.

“This freezes the conflict in eastern Ukraine, giving Russia time to prepare for a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine with international implications for energy and food supplies,” Higgins added. aggression, we could have avoided where we are today.”

Just two days before the judgment on Flight 17 came, one of the most tense moments in Ukraine’s nearly nine-month war occurred when a missile landed in Poland, killing two people. Officials in Washington and Warsaw said it was likely a rogue Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that missed its target during the Russian missile strike.

The U.S. National Security Council issued a statement saying that regardless of the final conclusion of the incident investigation, “the party ultimately responsible for this tragic incident is Russia, which launched the war.”

The Russian embassy in Australia linked the statement to the investigation into the downing of Flight 17, retorting in a tweet that it was “everything you need to know about the MH17 investigation and trial”.

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.

Ukrainians launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise a $100,000 bounty for his capture following reports of Gilkin’s return to the front lines.

If Ukrainian forces capture Gilkin, the Netherlands may seek his extradition, hoping to bring justice to the hundreds of family members who lost loved ones on Flight 17.

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