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Three men convicted over downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine in early days of Russia’s war

More than eight years after a missile slammed into Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 individuals on board, three men have been discovered responsible of homicide and deliberately inflicting the downing of the airplane by an worldwide court docket in the Hague, Netherlands. One different man was acquitted of all prices. The Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile in 2014 amid preventing between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces.

Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis opened the Thursday listening to by saying the court docket took the view that “MH17 was brought down by a [Russian-made] Buk missile.” He additionally mentioned the court docket believed that the half of eastern Ukraine the place the taking pictures occurred — the separatist, self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic — was “under Russian Federation control” on the time of the tragedy.

The choose discovered the defendants Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Leonid Kharchenko, two of whom are Russian and one of whom is Ukrainian, responsible in absentia and dominated they had been collectively chargeable for the equal of roughly 16.5 million {dollars} in damages to the victims’ subsequent of kin. They had been every sentenced to life in jail, although they’re believed to at present be in Russia extradition is unlikely.

Oleg Pulatov, who’s Russian and the one suspect who had authorized protection through the proceedings, was acquitted of all prices.

Russia’s international ministry mentioned it could “examine” the Dutch court docket’s opinion that the missile used to shoot down the MH17 was a Russian-made Buk.

Hundreds of victims’ members of the family traveled to the excessive safety courtroom close to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport on Thursday to listen to the decision in the long-running case, which started in March 2020.

“I still miss them,” Silene Fredriksz, whose son was killed on MH17 alongside together with his girlfriend, advised CBS News associate community BBC News forward of the decision. “Putin has never been stopped, and still has not been stopped… I hope the world wakes up now, because we knew it already eight years ago.”

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An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a website of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 airplane crash close to the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk area, July 17, 2014.

REUTERS


What occurred to MH17?

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam’s Schipol Aiport on its option to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 298 individuals on board included 15 crew members and 80 kids.

At the time, Russia was early into its marketing campaign to sieze management of elements of eastern Ukraine, and the area was thought-about a low-level battle zone. Due to some army planes being shot down, Ukraine had closed the airspace over the realm at altitudes beneath 32,000 ft.

MH17 was flying over Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk area, however 1,000 ft above the restricted airspace, when it lost contact with air visitors management. The wreckage of the airplane was scattered throughout fields of sunflowers and farmland.


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An worldwide investigation into the trigger of the explosion discovered that the airplane was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile, launched by a Buk TELAR set up that had been transported to a discipline in eastern Ukraine.

Investigators mentioned the missile launcher got here from Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade and had been transported throughout the Ukraine border from the western Russian metropolis of Kursk, to which it was returned after MH17 was downed.

The verdict

The defendants — Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko — three of whom are Russian and one of whom is Ukrainian, had been accused of working collectively to get the missile that hit MH17 into the sector from which it was fired. They had been additionally accused of the homicide of everybody on board the airplane.

Girkin, probably the most senior of the defendants, was the protection secretary of the self-declared, Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic on the time of the taking pictures, in addition to the commander of its armed forces. He is believed to at present be concerned in Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the Associated Press experiences.


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The different defendants had been Girkin’s subordinates. Pulatov, who was acquitted, had authorized illustration that argued the prosecution was not paying sufficient consideration to different potential causes of the tragedy and solely counting on the outcomes of the worldwide investigation into the taking pictures down of the airplane.

“What matters to me is that the truth is revealed,” Pulatov mentioned in a video recording performed in court docket through the trial. “It’s important for me that my country is not blamed for this tragedy.”

Pulatov was acquitted as a result of it was not confirmed that he was sufficiently concerned in the transport and launch of the Buk missile, Marieke de Hoon, a Dutch regulation professor, mentioned on Twitter.

Russia has put ahead many alternate theories for the downing of MH17, which have been debunked by consultants and analysts, and has at all times denied its involvement in the incident.

Eliot Higgins, the founder of the Bellingcat group, which examined open supply details about the downing of MH17 that he shared with Dutch prosecutors, advised the BBC forward of the ruling that, if there have been responsible verdicts, “anyone who would claim that Russia wasn’t involved with this shoot down is really a ridiculous person.”

Higgins mentioned Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014 and its present invasion of the nation are linked.

“Policymakers just weren’t comfortable with calling out Russia in a way they really should have done, Higgins said. “They did not react in the best way that might have prevented the invasion in 2022.” 

“If justice is just not being executed, then your entire feeling of a great world does not exist anymore. So getting justice dropped at you by so many individuals offers a great feeling and, I hope, will give some peace about this topic,” Hans de Borst, whose daughter was killed in the downing of the plane, told the BBC. “There was the catastrophe itself, however the subsequent catastrophe, I might say, was that Russia by no means cooperated. And that gave further ache for all of us. And why was that vital? Just ask for forgiveness.”

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