Three of four suspects found guilty in the MH17 case

November 18,2022 530
Three of four suspects found guilty in the MH17 case

Three men with ties to the Russian security were convicted and sentenced to life in prison by a court in the Netherlands on Thursday for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) Boeing 777 in 2014 above eastern Ukraine, killing all of 298 passengers and crew. A fourth suspect was acquitted, according to The New York Times.

The four, including three Russians and one Ukrainian, were never arrested and were tried in absentia. They are believed to be either in Russia or a Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine. The trial lasted for over two years and was held at a local criminal court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, from which MH17 departed in 2014.

Those convicted, namely Igor Girkin, a former colonel in Russia’s Federal Security Service, Sergey Dubinsky a former Russian military intelligence officer, and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian citizen who led a Russian-backed military unit, were found guilty of murder and downing a plane. The fourth man, Oleg Pulatov, also a former Russian military intelligence officer, was acquitted because he was considered insufficiently involved in the episode.

“The war in Ukraine has given the case greater significance. Support for separatists in eastern Ukraine was a key part of President Vladimir V. Putin’s pretext when he gave the order to invade in February this year, and many bereaved relatives have drawn a direct connection between the downing of the flight and the war. The verdict may also set an example for possible prosecutions of Russian crimes during the current war,” the story in NYT reads.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called the verdict an “important decision of the court.”

“The first convictions for those guilty of shooting down MH17. But it is necessary that those who ordered [the killing] also end up on the dock, because the feeling of impunity leads to new crimes. We have to dispel this illusion. Punishment for all Russian atrocities – both past and present – is imminent,” the President wrote on Twitter.

The foreign minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, also welcomed the “first convictions for shooting down MH17.”

“A titanic joint work of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Malaysia. These decisions send a signal to the Russian Federation: no lie will help avoid justice. The entire chain of command of Russian criminals must be brought to account,” tweeted.