Court Blames Russia For Missile That Struck Malaysia Airlines Plane, Killing Nearly 300
A court in the Netherlands has determined that a Russian-made missile was fired by two Russian nationals and a Ukrainian citizen, leading to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which killed nearly 300 people.
"The court is of the opinion that MH17 (Flight 17) was brought down by the firing of a BUK missile from a farm field near Pervomaisk, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members," presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said, per Reuters.
The case is different from that of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared around four months earlier and has remained a mystery.
As the Epoch Times notes, the statement was issued in the trial of several Russians and a separatist Ukrainian who were found guilty in absentia of the mass murder for their alleged involvement in shooting down Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.
Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, and Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko were on trial at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands, according to reports. Pulatov was acquitted while the three others were found guilty.
None of the defendants appeared for the trial that began in March 2020, and if they’re convicted, it’s unlikely they’ll serve any sentence anytime soon. Prosecutors had sought life sentences for all four. Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an appeal.
In a statement responding to the verdict, the US state department said:
The United States welcomes today’s decision finding three members of Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine guilty for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The decision by the District Court of The Hague is an important moment in ongoing efforts to deliver justice for the 298 individuals who lost their lives on July 17, 2014.
Today’s decision is the result of sustained work by a Joint Investigation Team comprised of authorities from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, and reflects the Netherlands’ firm commitment to establish the truth and pursue accountability in this case. While this is a solid step towards justice, more work lies ahead to meet the UN Security Council’s demand in resolution 2166 that “those responsible…be held to account.”
Russia, meanwhile, slammed the verdict as 'politically motivated.'
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Dutch court was "under unprecedented pressure" during the hearings, adding "There can be no talk of objectivity and impartiality under such circumstances."
The Russians pointed to alleged attempts by Dutch "politicians, prosecutors and media to impose a politically motivated verdict" in the case. "We deeply regret the fact that The Hague District Court disregarded the principle of impartiality of justice in favor of the current political situation."