Two Russian men and one Ukrainian man have been convicted in absentia for murder following the shooting down of Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All three men have been given life sentences for helping to arrange the transport into Ukraine of the Russian military missile system that was used to shoot down the plane. The intention had been to shoot down a military plane.
Reuters has named the three men convicted as former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian separatist leader. Another accused was acquitted despite the judges finding that he knew about the missile. He was the only one of the four to have legal representation.
An October 2015 report by the Dutch Safety Board concluded the Boeing was “shot down over the eastern part of Ukraine, where an armed conflict broke out in April 2014,” killing all 298 people on board. In further detail, the report noted a Russian-made Buk missile hit the front left of the plane causing other parts to break off. The report said airspace over eastern Ukraine should have been closed during the conflict which was a precursor to Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Russia, inevitably, disagreed with the findings of the report at the time, and has now called the Dutch court’s ruling on the three men “scandalous”. It added that it would not be extraditing its citizens, who are now fugitives and believed to be living in Russia.
Ukraine however, has welcomed the ruling and said it may set a precedent for other cases filed against Russia.