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Russians convicted of shooting down a passenger plane over Ukraine

Russians convicted of shooting down a passenger plane over Ukraine

Igor Girkin is among those convicted in the MH17 case.

A known Russian national was among the three sentenced to life in prison Thursday for shooting down a passenger airliner over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.


A representative of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the verdict is a signal to the world that war crimes committed by the Russians will be documented and the perpetrators convicted.

Three Russians and one Ukrainian were charged in absentia from the rebel side, that is, without being present at trial in the Netherlands.

The most famous of these is Igor Girkin, a self-proclaimed Russian nationalist who was central when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and started the war in eastern Ukraine. He has a background as an FSB agent. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Tragedy: 298 people lost their lives when a Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine.

The other defendants, Russian Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, will also be sentenced to life in prison. A fourth accused was acquitted.

It is believed that all three convicts are in Russia and will not be extradited, according to Reuters.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 was supposed to be heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 at 16.20.03.

283 passengers and 15 crew members died. 80 of the passengers were children. Just over half of the passengers were from the Netherlands.

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The detailed ruling stated that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile. It is also clear that Russia had “total control” On the separatists who fired the missile.

Here is the prosecutor’s account of what happened.

Here is a summary of the ruling.

Igor Girkin is among those convicted in the MH-17 case. In recent months, he has expressed that Vladimir Putin has not been tough enough on Ukraine.

– There is no doubt that the missile was launched deliberately, but they thought it was a military aircraft, the judge says on Thursday.

The next of kin’s attorneys have stated beforehand that the verdict is significant, even though the defendants are at large.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that it would study the ruling carefully and then issue a statement.

The court believes that it cannot be determined exactly who gave the order to shoot. It is also clear that the three men could be prosecuted on the grounds that they were not part of the Russian armed forces. They were also ordered to pay “at least” NOK 165 million to the survivors.

Dutch prosecutors received court support in the transfer of heavy weapons from the Russian city of Kursk to the Ukrainian border in the summer of 2014. Among these six were the so-called Buk, an anti-aircraft missile system, belonging to the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk. These missiles were used to attack Ukrainian forces.

A graphic representation of how you imagine the missile launching and striking Malaysia Airlines in the airspace over Ukraine in July 2014.

A group of international experts in 2016 identified this Flight MH17 was shot down by a Buk missile, and that it was launched from a site in Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels, an area now annexed by Russia. They suspected that about 100 people could have played an “active role” during the shooting.

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At that time, several hundred passenger planes flew over Ukraine every day. MH17 reportedly maintained an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was dropped.

They are said to have shot down a number of Ukrainian military planes and helicopters in the same area in the summer – before this happened. The indictment also states that Buk’s weapon is from the 53rd Russian Air Defense Brigade He was smuggled into Ukraine at night Before the tragic downing of MH17.

Justice: Rob Fredericks, who lost his son and girlfriend in the crash, puts up a sign near the Russian Embassy in The Hague. He demands justice. The photo is from the start of the trial in March 2020.

In the spring of 2014, the “little green men” – without the Russian flag on their arms – captured the Ukrainian Crimea. Then the armed struggle began in Donbass, where separatists supported by Moscow seized power in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Recently, President Vladimir Putin declared these two regions – and two other Ukrainian regions – part of Russia.

The Russian Igor Girkin was initially central to the annexation of Crimea, then went to the Donbass and participated strongly in the conflict there. Eventually Girkin appointed himself “Minister of Defense” in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”. This was the beginning of the war in Ukraine, which escalated sharply in February 2022 when Vladimir Putin ordered a full invasion.

Girkin has been doing it frequently lately Putin criticized Because it is not hard enough in Ukraine.

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According to the prosecutors, Serge Dubinsky was the deputy commander of the army in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” – with Girkin as its commander. It is said that they fought together in Chechnya earlier.

Two KLM employees with a sea of ​​flowers at Schiphol Airport in 2014.

The third convict, Leonid Kharchenko, is said to have become part of the Donetsk People’s Republic army in May-June 2014 and commanded soldiers in the town of Konstantinovka, north of Donetsk city.

According to the indictment, Oleg Bulatov was the commander of 1,150 soldiers and had Girkin and Dubinsky as his direct superiors. He was acquitted by the Netherlands Court, which ruled that there was no evidence of his involvement in the shooting.

That was in 2019 The men have been formally charged, and a trial begins in the spring of 2020.