MH17  Igor Girkin is the most prominent, according to prosecutors?

Three Dutch men were found guilty of murder in a shooting down of a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The incident resulted in 298 deaths.

According to the court, a Russian-made missile was used to bring down Flight MH17. It was supplied by Russia and fired from an armed group controlled by Russia.

Two Russians and one Ukrainian were found guilty of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment. The third Russian was exonerated.

Before allegations of atrocities became a daily reality, the missile attack was one among the most notorious war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Many relatives of the victims believe that if the world had responded differently to Russia’s invasion eight years ago and taken a stronger stance against Russia, it could have prevented the current geopolitical instability and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine.

Judges ruled it was a deliberate act to bring down a aircraft, even though the three guilty were not intending to shoot down civilian aircraft but a military one.

  • Igor Girkin wasthe military commander of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. He was convicted for deploying the missile, and seeking Russian assistance.
  • Sergei Dubinsky was found responsible for the command and supervision of the transportation of the Buk missile launcher.
  • Leonid Khachenko was found responsible for the Buk’s management, following Dubinsky’s orders.

Oleg Pulatov was one of four defendants who had legal representation during the trial. Although he was aware of the missile, he was acquitted by the judges.

298 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew, boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on 17 July 2014.

The plane was flying at 33,000 feet above Ukraine. This was in the early days Russia’s attempts to control certain areas of the country.

This was a low-level conflict area at the time, but the fighting had just escalated. Many military aircraft were shot down in the months that followed.

Ukraine responded by closing the airspace at lower elevations, up to 32,000ft. However, planes continued to cross the country.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flew 1,000 feet above restricted airspace.

It lost contact with air traffic controllers at 13:20 GMT.

There were 298 passengers from 17 countries aboard the ship, including 196 from the Netherlands, 43 from Malaysia and 38 from Australia. Ten others came from the UK. They had packed for their dream holidays, an Aids conference and family reunions. All their plans for the future vanished in a flash.

Silene Fredriksz says that she still misses them, with her walls covered in photos of Bryce and Daisy. After a hard year, the young couple was heading to Bali as a surprise.

Moving forward to 2022, the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow in February opened up wounds that were not fully healed.

Silene said, “It was heartbreaking.” Silene believes the conflict could have been avoided if the world had taken a more aggressive line in 2014.

“Putin was never stopped and is still being stopped,” Silene said. Silene stated that Putin will not stop until he has been stopped. It is my hope that the world wakes up, as we already knew eight years ago.

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident and instead offered a variety of theories, including that a Ukrainian fighter plane fired the missile or that Ukrainian government forces were responsible. In some cases, they even created evidence to back their claims.

These were then diligently debunked using material gathered from a team international investigators and rejected by the Dutch court.

The detonation by a Russian-made 9N314M warhead, carried on the 9M38M1 missile and launched from the eastern region of Ukraine with a Buk missile systems caused the plane’s disintegration in mid-air.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins looked into open-source evidence. His team discovered links to Russia’s 53rd Aircraft Missile Brigadier and searched through 200 soldiers’ posts on social media to confirm the identities and roles of many of the members of the unit that was based in a Kursk military barracks. Bellingcat shared the results with Dutch authorities. He believes that the trial has shown indisputable evidence of Russia’s involvement.

Eliot said that he believed at this point and particularly with a guilty verdict, that “anyone who would claim Russia was not involved in this shoot down is truly a ridiculous person”.

According to his findings, Eliot Higgins believes that the events of 2022 and 2014 are interconnected.

“People just turned a blind eye to it. Policymakers were not comfortable calling out Russia in the way that they should have. They didn’t respond in a way that would have prevented the invasion of 2022. There should have been greater military support for Ukraine, more sanctions and a stronger response to the situation than what we saw. It could have been possible to take preventative steps that could have saved many lives.”

This trial was an opportunity to expose Russian disinformation. Judges rejected an alternate version of events that was promoted by Buk missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, claiming it to be falsified and had not been independently assessed.

“There was the actual disaster. The next disaster was, I would argue, that Russia didn’t cooperate. This caused us all extra pain. Why was this necessary? As Hans de Borst shows us holiday photos of Elsemiek, his 17-year old daughter, he says “Just say sorry.”

He is holding on to his memories as well as Elsemiek’s passport and boarding passes, which were both intact after the accident.

The families at the epicenter of the MH17 tragedy put their trust in the Netherlands’ investigation.

He says, stoically, that “it is extremely important to my” because it’s that feeling that justice must be done in a world where people are killed while on vacation. Your whole sense of a peaceful world is lost if justice isn’t done. This is why it’s so important to get justice done by so many people. I hope this will bring some peace.

Investigators were able, using clues such as intercepted telephone calls and eyewitness accounts, to identify the weapon and track its route from Russia to eastern Ukraine. They also identified key suspects by tracing the route of the weapon’s launch site.

Three Russians and one Ukrainian are the three. Igor Girkin is the most prominent, according to prosecutors. He is a former colonel with Russia’s intelligence agency the FSB.

All suspects have refused to appear at court and the Kremlin has withdrawn all legal proceedings. Oleg Pulatov was the only one who retained the services of a Dutch team to defend him.

Although the verdict is unlikely to lead to anyone being sentenced for mass murder, the investigation provided a historical record that can be trusted and gave the families some comfort.

Silene Fredriksz admits that “we will never get our kids back,” but “but…we need the truth.” We need justice. This is only a part of justice.


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