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MH17 Trial: Defendants Intended to Shoot Down Ukrainian Plane, But This Doesn’t Eliminate Guilt

MH17 catastrophe

On Monday, 20 December, the District Court of The Hague resumed trial over the downing of Flight MH17, in which all 298 passengers and crew members died. The prosecution began to read out the indictment.

Dutch prosecutors stressed that the four defendants intended to shoot down a Ukrainian military plane, but that did not change the essence of charges.

Igor Girkin (Strelkov), so-called former minister of defence of “Donetsk People’s Republic”; Sergey Dubinskiy, general (at the time of downing – colonel) of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces; Oleg Pulatov, lieutenant colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces; and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian citizen who fought on the side of Russian-backed militants, are responsible for the deaths of people on board the passenger plane.

“Girkin, Dubinskiy, Pulatov, and Kharchenko were directly responsible for Buk missile system. Their actions led to the plane crash and the death of 298 people. They did not push the button, but they asked for, received, and used Buk for their military purposes, eventually shooting down MH17. The defendants intended to shoot down a Ukrainian military plane, but this does not change the essence of charges and evidence,” the prosecution said.

The prosecutor also stressed that Dutch law prohibits the downing of any aircraft. Thus, the four defendants are guilty of murder. They used the Buk system as a weapon in pursuit of their military goals.

At the same time, the court underscored that the investigation was conducted at the highest level and all witness statements, satellite images, photos, and videos had been carefully checked from the very beginning.

According to the prosecutor, the Russian special services are trying to hinder the revelation of the truth about the downing of MH17, so measures were taken to protect every witness in the case. It is very important for the relatives of MH17 victims to finally hear the truth after much false information was released, he stressed.

In particular, Russia provided fake satellite images. The Russian Federation also did not explain where the Buk missile system No. 3х2 of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, stationed in Kursk, had been located on 17 July 2014.

The statement by the prosecution consists of four parts. Evidence and involvement of the defendants in the tragedy, lawsuits of relatives of the victims will be discussed further, and the request for judgment will end this year’s hearings

Bohdan Marusyak

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