©Health & Fitness Journal. FILE PHOTO: A general view of the courtroom where the MH17 trial of three Russians and one Ukrainian is taking place as it enters a new phase in which families of victims of the MH17 plane crash in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands, will testify on September 6, 2021 . R
AMSTERDAM (Health & Fitness Journal) – A Dutch court said on Thursday that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in 2014 by a Russian-made missile launched from a field in eastern Ukraine, and that Russia at the time the plane was shot down, overall control of the Separatist forces had gunned down.
The court read out its verdict in the case of four men with ties to Russia accused of mass murder over their alleged role in the plane crash.
The MH17 passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
At the time, the area was the scene of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces, the precursor to this year’s conflict.
Victims representatives say the verdict will mark an important milestone even though the suspects, all of whom face life sentences, remain on the run. They are all believed to be in Russia, which will not extradite them.
Moscow denies any involvement or responsibility in the downing of MH17 and in 2014 also denied any presence in Ukraine.
Prosecutors say the suspects, three former Russian intelligence officers and a Ukrainian separatist military leader, helped organize and transport a Russian army BUK missile system to Ukraine, which was used to shoot down the plane.
They were charged with shooting down a plane and murder in a trial held under Dutch law. They could alternatively be convicted of manslaughter if the Hague District Court judges find that the act was not premeditated.
Intercepted phone calls, which formed a significant part of the evidence against the men, suggested they believed they were targeting a Ukrainian warplane.
Three of the men were tried in absentia and the fourth pleaded not guilty through lawyers he had hired to represent him. Nobody attended the hearing.
Victims of MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur came from 10 different countries. More than half were Dutch.
The investigation was led by the Netherlands, with participation from Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium.
The suspects are Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov; and the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.