Trio Sentenced To Life For Downing Flight MH17 Over Ukraine
The judgment set to further inflame tensions between the West and the Kremlin.
(Bloomberg) -- Two Russians and a Ukrainian citizen were found guilty by a Dutch court of carrying out the deadly attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, in a judgment set to further inflame tensions between the West and the Kremlin.
Judges in the Hague ruled that Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukraine national Leonid Kharchenko caused a missile attack, which led to the deaths of all 298 people on board the Boeing 777. The fourth defendant, Oleg Pulatov, the only one who sent lawyers to defend him, was acquitted.
The court sentenced the three defendants to life in prison but none of the men, tried in absentia, are likely to face jail any time soon. Russia doesn’t extradite its citizens and multiple international arrest warrants are in place for the defendants, including Kharchenko.
Most of the victims of the flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch citizens, making it a sensitive topic in the Netherlands. “This is yet another step in the pursuit of truth and justice for the victims and their loved ones,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Twitter, adding that the judgment is not yet final because all parties have the right to appeal.
Russia will study the court’s verdict before commenting, because “every nuance matters,” Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Ivan Nachaev told reporters at a regular briefing in Moscow.
The Dutch government has held Russia liable for the incident on July 17, 2014 after a multi-year probe by a five-country investigation team concluded that a BUK missile that downed the plane belonged to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade in Kursk. Ukraine has accused Russia-backed separatists in its east of shooting down the plane.
The downing of MH17 occurred months after another Malaysian Airlines passenger flight, MH370 traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with more than 200 passengers on board, disappeared in mid-flight. The fate of that aircraft remains unknown to this day despite an extensive search operation, and only a few fragments of debris have been recovered in recent years.
--With assistance from .
(Updates with details)
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