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Dutch court convicts three MH17 suspects, acquits one

Dutch court convicts three MH17 suspects, acquits one


Eight years after all 298 on board died, two Russians and one Ukrainian are sentenced to life in prison for murder.

A Dutch court has sentenced three Russia-linked men and acquitted one for their alleged roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, a separatist leader, were found guilty of murder and intentionally causing an aircraft to crash at The Hague District Court on Thursday.

All three were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment. A fourth suspect, Russian Oleg Pulatov was acquitted.

The verdicts came eight years after the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

At the time, pro-Russian separatist rebels and Ukrainian forces were locked in a tense conflict.

Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said on Thursday that evidence presented by prosecutors at the trial, which began in March 2020, proved that MH17 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile.

None of the suspects appeared for their trial, which began in March 2020.

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It is unlikely the three men will serve their sentences anytime soon given they remain at large. Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an appeal.

The court’s decisions were immediately welcomed by Kyiv.

“It can be said that this is the strongest signal to the whole world, including Russia itself, that every war crime committed by the Russians will be documented, investigated and brought to a conclusion. No matter how much time it takes,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the Reuters news agency.

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