3 men were given life sentences over the downing of flight MH17, but they may never be caught | Businessinsider


Lawyers attend the judges’ inspection of the reconstruction of the MH17 wreckage, as part of the murder trial ahead of the beginning of a critical stage, on May 26, 2021 in Reijen, Netherlands. (Photo by Piroschka van de Wouw – Pool/Getty Images)

  • A Dutch court sentenced three men to life in prison over the downing of passenger jet MH17 in 2014.
  • The plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made missile, and nearly 300 people were killed.
  • Two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatist were convicted, but they’re fugitives.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

A Dutch court on Thursday sentenced two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatist to life in prison for their role in shooting down a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014 and the deaths of nearly 300 people.

The Hague District Court convicted Russians Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, of murdering the 298 people who were aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, according to multiplereports. Another Russian who was accused, Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted based on a lack of evidence.   

All four individuals were absent from the courtroom during Thursday’s verdict and have been since the trial began in 2020, according to a Euronews report.

Given that the convicted are currently fugitives, the three men may never be apprehended and serve their time in prison, the report said. In addition to prison time, Girkin, Dubinskiy, and Kharchenko were also ordered to pay €60 million (over $62 million) in compensation to the relatives of the victims. 

MH17, a Boeing 777 aircraft, was flying between Amsterdam and Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it was hit by a Russian-made missile while it was travelling at cruising altitude over the pro-Russian separatist-controlled region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The missile was provided by Russia’s military to pro-Moscow separatist forces, the Dutch court confirmed.

“The court is of the opinion that MH17 was brought down by the firing of a BUK missile from a farm field near Pervomaisk, killing al 283 passengers and 15 crew members,” Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said, per Reuters.

World leaders blamed Moscow for the tragedy, and Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to pin responsibility on Kyiv. The incident further fueled tensions between the two countries, which are currently at war. Thursday’s verdict was met with immediate praise by Ukrainian leaders.

“Important court decision in The Hague. First sentences for the perpetrators of #MH17 downing. Holding to account masterminds is crucial too, as the feeling of impunity leads to new crimes. We must dispel this illusion. Punishment for all RF’s atrocities then & now is inevitable,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the verdicts “send a message to Russia: no amount of lies can help escape justice. All criminals up the Russian chain of command shall be held accountable.

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