Netherlands sentences three to life in prison for shooting down commercial plane in Ukraine in 2014

The Dutch court sentenced a Ukrainian and two Russians to life imprisonment this Thursday (17) for shooting down the MH flight17 by Malaysia Airlines “with a BUK missilefrom an agricultural field” in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, although the trial was held in absentia and none of the accused are under arrest .

The Russians Igor “Strelkov” Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky and the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were found guilty of the crash of the plane and the murder of the 60 passengers who were aboard the MH17, according to the sentence read by the president of the court, Hendrik Steenhuis, before hundreds of relatives of victims of that tragedy.

Girkin and Dubinsky had “high-level functions and coordination of the operation” that led to the overthrow of the MH17, while Kharchenko was “directly involved”, now the three of them the compensation that will have to be paid to the next of kin of the victims for the damage caused.

The court regretted not having information to indicate who requested the missile launcher or who gave the order to launch the missile against the flight MH17, but warned that a BUK missile cannot be launched “by mistake”, since there must be prior considerations, which is why they found that “the missile was fired deliberately” and the defendants “knew what the consequences would be”.

On the other hand, the court found convincing the theory that the defendants believed that the target was a military aircraft, and not a passenger plane, but, because they did not have the immunity granted to combatants in a war , since Russia did not admit its control over the area, and as the defendants did not declare themselves members of the Russian Army, they were not authorized to shoot down a military plane either.

In this way, the court declared it proved that the plane was shot down by a missile, ruling out scenarios as an accident, and that Russia was involved in the “armed action” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

Former Intelligence Colonel Girkin, aged 51, was in charge of the Defense portfolio in the area where the rebels Pro-Russian leaders were active and had direct contact with Moscow, and the court found that he was in charge of the battlefield on the day the plane was shot down and kept the Kremlin informed.

Girkin worked with 60 year old Dubinsky, who was head of intelligence in the same region, maintained regular contact with Russia and the BUK was transported to the Ukrainian agricultural countryside and returned to Russian territory under his authority.

Kharchenko, 50 years old, is the only Ukrainian of the three and at the time of the tragedy commanded a combat group of pro-insurgent rebels. -Russia in the region, under the command of Dubinsky. He escorted and supervised the missile launcher and his role was “instrumental” in the crash of the plane, making him a co-author.

Oleg Pulatov, 56 , was the only one of the four who was not tried in absentia, although he never appeared in court, sending only a team of lawyers to his defense.

Pulatov was a member of a special intelligence unit and, as of July 2014, was serving as deputy head of rebel intelligence in Donetsk. The court found that he was not present when the missile was fired and did not influence the plan, which is why he was acquitted, as his criminal responsibility for the tragedy could not be determined.

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