Prosecution calls for life imprisonment for shooting down MH17

Status: 12/22/2021 12:42 p.m.

The Dutch public prosecutor has called for life sentences for four suspects in connection with the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Among other things, they are said to have procured the anti-aircraft missile.

In the trial of the downing of passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the public prosecutor’s office has demanded life sentences for the four defendants. The officers of the pro-Russian rebels at the time were responsible for the deaths of 298 people and therefore had to receive the maximum penalty, the prosecution officials said before the criminal court at Amsterdam Airport. “The defendants cruelly killed 298 people,” said public prosecutor Thijs Berger.

“Destructive” weapon obtained

According to the prosecution, three Russians and one Ukrainian shot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing in July 2014 with a Russian Buk-type anti-aircraft missile. The public prosecutor emphasized that the defendants had obtained and used an extra heavy “all-destructive” weapon with which civil aircraft could also be hit.

They would have consciously accepted that innocent citizens were victims. The prosecution had produced a lot of evidence, including photos, tapped phone calls, videos and testimony. According to the prosecution, these evidence that the men procured the Buk missile. In doing so, they also caused great damage to their relatives and triggered an international shock.

Russia rejects any responsibility

In July 2014, fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists raged in eastern Ukraine. The Malaysia Airlines machine was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The proceedings for the shooting down of MH17 have been running since spring 2020 and are being conducted in the absence of the accused. Only one person can be represented by defense lawyers. All deny any responsibility. The verdict is not expected until next year.

The process is politically sensitive as Moscow rejects any responsibility. Attempts to assign Moscow responsibility for the accident are “absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the state broadcaster RT. Extradition of the defendants therefore seems unlikely. Since most of the victims were Dutch, the trial is also taking place in that country.

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