Dutch court expects November verdicts in MH17 downing trial
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Verdicts in the Dutch trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are expected to be delivered on Nov. 17, the court announced Monday.
The court said the date is “provisional” and that reading the verdict will likely take half a day.
The marathon trial opened on March 9, 2020, at a top-security courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol, the airport the doomed Kuala Lumpur-bound flight set off from on July 17, 2014. It was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine hours later, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
An international team of investigators and prosecutors named four suspects in the downing: Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. They are charged with murdering all those who died.
None of the suspects has been arrested or sent to the Netherlands, so their trial went ahead in their absence. Only Pulatov is represented by a team of defense lawyers, who say he insists he is innocent.
Prosecutors in December urged the judges to sentence all four men to life imprisonment.
The trial is being held in the Netherlands because about two-thirds of those killed were Dutch.
Prosecutors say the Buk missile system that destroyed the Boeing 777 was transported into Ukraine from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade’s base in Kursk, and after a missile was fired the launching system was then returned to Russia. Russia has denied involvement in the downing of the plane.
“The crew of the Telar pressed the button, but according to the indictment it was Girkin, Dubinskiy, Pulatov and Kharchenko who directed the employment of this weapon in order to serve their own interests,” prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse told judges as the trial opened.