3 Convicted In Downing Of Malaysian Jet Over Ukraine
A Dutch court on Thursday convicted three men of murder for their role in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with a Russian surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people aboard the aircraft as it flew over a separatist-controlled region of eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Photo Insert: Dutch and Australian police examine the crash site.
Russians Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko, who all remain at large, were convicted for their role in bringing the Buk missile system from a Russian military base into Ukraine and putting it into position for its launch.
Russian Oleg Pulatov was acquitted.
The convictions, along with the life sentences handed to the two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian who were tried in absentia, were seen as directing the blame for the jet’s downing at the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though the Kremlin has always denied any connection to it, Mike Corder and Raf Casert reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said evidence presented by prosecutors in the trial — which lasted more than two years — proved that the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk missile fired by pro-Moscow Ukrainian fighters on July 17, 2014.
The crash scattered wreckage and bodies over farmland and fields of sunflowers. The 298 passengers and crew killed in the downing came from more than a dozen countries, although nearly 200 were Dutch citizens.