Guilty verdict for three defendants in MH17 trial – Australian Aviation

Three of the four suspects charged in the downing of MH17 have been found guilty of the atrocity – eight years after their incident.

The Dutch court found Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko guilty of murdering 298 people on board flight MH17, which was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile while flying over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The three suspects were sentenced to life imprisonment, who were also ordered to pay more than 16 million euros ($28.8 million) in compensation to their victims’ families.

The other suspect, Russian Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted of the charge due to lack of evidence of his role in launching the missile.

The accused were tried in absentia, and only Pulatov appointed a lawyer who pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

All four were fighters for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, a pro-Russian separatist movement. The court found that Russia was in control of the separatist group in eastern Ukraine at the time of the incident.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis presided over the trial and confirmed that the weapon used to down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was a Russian-made BUK anti-aircraft missile and that the weapon was supplied by the Russian Army’s 53rd Air Defense Brigade, based in Kursk.

The court also confirmed that the air defense system was fired from an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi, a pro-Russian control area.

All of this was determined back in 2018 by the International Criminal Investigation Team.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented on the verdict.

“Holding the masterminds accountable is also crucial as the sense of impunity breeds new crimes. We must dispel this illusion. punishment for everyone [Russia’s] Atrocities then and now are inevitable,” said Zelenskyy.

A little justice was done today for the tragedy that claimed the lives of 298 people, including 38 Australians. While the perpetrators remain at large and are unlikely to serve their sentences, the guilty verdict was welcomed by the victims’ families.

Mathew Horder, who lost his parents Howard and Susan in the attack, said the court gave him the answers he was looking for.

“The facts we are hearing about, the BUK missile that shot down Mum and Dad’s plane, are true…these people were murdered on purpose by these three defendants,” he said.

Meryn and Jon O’Brien, who lost their son Jack, were also participants in the Dutch court’s ruling: ‘Jack has no voice. Jack would want the truth out. So… I feel relieved.”

Commenting on her grief as a family, she said: “It doesn’t change anything for all of us. It’s a measure of justice,” O’Brien said.

Secretary of State Penny Wong has called on Russia to take responsibility and extradite those convicted “to face trial for their heinous crime”.

“We would tell Russia, the world knows you harbor murderers and that says something about you, Mr. Putin,” she said.

Wong also reassured the public that Australia would continue to press Russia while working with the international community to ensure the three convicts served their sentences.

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