Plane crash: Dutch prosecutors call for life imprisonment in destruction of MH17

SCHIPHOL, NETHERLANDS –
Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday requested life sentences for four suspects in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Prosecutors said the four recklessly used a Russian missile to bring down the airliner, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

The public prosecutor Manon Ridderbeks delivered the request for conviction after a three-day presentation of evidence. The suspects are tried in absentia.

“The downing of the MH17 with a Buk missile brutally ended the lives of the 298 people on board. Incredibly deep and irreversible suffering has been caused to the next of kin, ”Ridderbeks told the court.

Prosecutors accuse Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Igor Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, who were separatist rebels fighting Ukrainian government forces in 2014, of forming a team that aimed to bring down Ukrainian planes to the using a missile system imported by truck from the Russian army. based.

Prosecutor Thijs Berger told judges earlier on Wednesday that it was not legally relevant that the suspects wanted to shoot down military and non-civilian planes.

“Legally speaking, they were ordinary citizens, they were not allowed to commit violence,” he said.

The trial is taking place in the Netherlands in a high-security courtroom near Schiphol Airport, as nearly 200 of those on board were Dutch citizens.

Wednesday’s sentencing demands came amid mounting tensions between Moscow and the West over a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine that raised fears of an invasion. Russia has denied its intention to attack its neighbor.

Defense lawyers for Pulatov, who is the only suspect represented in court, will make their presentation to the judges in March. Verdicts are not expected until September next year at the earliest.

Prosecutors had spent the previous two days detailing the indictment and supporting evidence for the panel of judges.

Prosecutors detailed the route taken by the Buk missile to and from the launch site in a farm field near the village of Pervomaiskyi, using witnesses, social media posts, photos and videos, and intercepted phone calls and cell phone location data.

They also discussed forensic evidence gathered from the wreckage and the bodies of the victims which were recovered in eastern Ukraine and returned to the Netherlands for examination. Earlier in the trial, judges visited a hangar at a Dutch military air base where the wreckage is stored to view the mutilated fragments of wreckage.

Prosecutors concluded that the plane was shot down by a Buk missile belonging to the 53rd Russian Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade which had been driven to the launch site “on the orders and under the direction of the suspects”.

Prosecutors also cited wiretap conversations between Dubinsky and Kharchenko discussing the downing of what they initially believed to be a Ukrainian warplane.

Prosecutors contend that Girkin and Dubinskiy were high-ranking separatist rebels while Pulatov and Kharchenko were their direct reports.

“Together, they are responsible for the deployment of the Buk telar used to bring down flight MH17,” prosecutors said in a written summary of their arguments.

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