Three Russians and a Ukrainian national accused of mass murder and tried to remain absent for alleged involvement in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were sentenced on Thursday by a Dutch court. Malaysia Airlines MH17 shot down in Ukraine.
A Boeing 777 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down from the sky over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
All 298 passengers were killed in the crash. including 15 crew members and 283 passengers from 17 countries.
The crash of MH17 comes in the early stages of a conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.
An international investigation found that the plane was shot down by a Russian Buk missile fired from a village in eastern Ukraine. which was occupied by pro-Russian rebels at that time.
Prosecutors said the launcher belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade and was returned to Russian territory the day after the attack. Moscow has repeatedly denied responsibility for such incidents.
The trial marks the first time that an independent verdict will be heard over the 2014 incident.
Three Russians, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, have been named as suspects along with Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko.
Investigators identified Girkin as a former colonel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Dubinskiy was hired by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and Pulatov was a former soldier of the Russian Spetsnaz-GRU special forces.
Ukraine’s Kharchenko has no military background. But is believed to lead combat units in Donetsk in July 2014.
Although the suspects were not accused of firing missiles at MH17, they were “as much punished as they were if they were to be punished.” with the person who committed the crime,” according to Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.
The men were tried in absentia at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands. and is unlikely to face a penalty if convicted.
Pulatov was the only suspect represented by the lawyers and has always maintained his innocence.
Prosecutors have called for life imprisonment for suspects of murder and plane crash. They have presented thousands of pages of evidence to support their case.