Being updatedEarlier in the day, the Hague District Court issued a verdict in the trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian over their alleged roles in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft and the deaths of all 298 people on board. Three suspects were found guilty and sentenced to life, while the fourth was acquitted.The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized the Hague District Court’s verdict in the MH17 case, stressing that the course and results of the trial in the Netherlands show that the proceedings were based on a political order to reinforce the version about Russia’s alleged involvement in the downing of the Malaysian plane.Moscow expressed regret that the court in The Hague neglected the principles of impartial justice for the sake of political expediency and ignored the fact that all the conclusions of the prosecution are built upon anonymous testimonies.The ministry pointed out that the court wasn’t even perturbed by the fact that the Ukrainian side refused to provide radar data or recordings of communication between air traffic controllers and the plane crew. The Dutch court also ignored the documents, which were declassified by the Russian Defense Ministry in 2018, concerning the missile, whose debris was found at the crash site.Earlier on Thursday, the Hague District Court found three out of four defendants in the case guilty. Two Russians, Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko were given a life sentence in absentia, while Oleg Pulatov was acquitted. The trio was ordered to pay compensation to the relatives of the 298 victims of the plane crash.
What Happened to Flight MH17?
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 as the region was mired in a conflict with the new government following a coup earlier that year. As a result, all 298 passengers – mostly Dutch – and crew on board were killed in the crash.Following the tragedy, Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in the region blamed each other for the downing, with the latter contending that they had no military equipment that would allow them to shoot down an aircraft at that altitude. The United States and a number of European nations, for their part, rushed to allege that Russia was responsible for the incident– a claim that was made even before an official investigation was launched.Shortly thereafter, the Netherlands set up a Joint Investigative Team (JIT) to probe the MH17 case, but left Russia out of the process despite the latter’s consistent offers to assist in the investigation.JIT’s probe concluded that the aircraft was downed by a Buk missile, allegedly launched from a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade stationed in the city of Kursk, not far from the Ukrainian border. At the same time, the Dutch-led team refused to share concrete evidence to corroborate the claims that Russia was responsible for the downing.In 2019, JIT announced that international arrest warrants would be issued for four suspects, Russians Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, on charges of murder, with a trial over the MH17 case beginning in the Netherlands in March 2020.Moscow has repeatedly slammed JIT’s conclusions as “openly biased” and “one-sided” and emphasised that after being denied access to the formal probe, Russia had carried out its own investigation, which concluded that it was an older version of the missile made in 1986 and belonging to Ukraine that downed the ill-fated plane. Dutch investigators, however, ignored the information.