Three Russians, one Ukrainian accused of 2014 downing of flight MH17

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Three Russians, one Ukrainian accused of 2014 downing of flight MH17
Toby Sterling, Anthony Deutsch
June 19, 2019 / Updated 8 minutes ago

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NIEUWEGEIN, Netherlands (Reuters) - Three Russians and a Ukrainian will face murder charges for the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed, in a trial to start in the Netherlands next March, an investigation team said on Wednesday.

The suspects are likely to be tried in absentia, however, as the Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and is not expected to hand anyone over.

The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane’s destruction named the four suspects as Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. It said international arrest warrants for the four have been issued.

MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. Everyone on board was killed.

Most of those on board were Dutch. The joint investigation team formed by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said that Moscow was not to blame and that there are other explanations for what happened.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.

Asked if she expected the suspects to attend the trial, Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the plane with his girlfriend Daisy, said: “No. No, I don’t think so. But I don’t care. I just want the truth, and this is the truth.”

Moscow has said it does not trust the investigation.
“Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite expressing an interest right from the start and trying to join it”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

The investigation team said Girkin was a former FSB colonel who served as minister of defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in the summer of 2014.

It said Dubinsky was head of the military intelligence agency of DNR, while Pulatov was head of a second department of the DNR military intelligence agency. Ukrainian national Kharchenko was head of a reconnaissance battalion for the second department, it said.

The team said it would ask the Russian government to allow it to question the suspects who are currently in Russia. It said Kharchenko was thought to be in Ukraine at the moment.

Prosecutors have previously said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

Reporting by Toby Sterling, Anthony Deutsch and Bart Meijer; Additional reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson


 

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Russia’s leaders could face charges in MH17 murder case

Thursday, June 20, 2019




Charges could be brought against high-ranking Russian officials and military officers in the MH17 murder case, said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, as cited by Interfax-Ukraine.

“We will start with the soldiers and end with the generals and politicians,” he remarked.

Lutsenko noted that, at a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) press conference in the Netherlands, relatives of the victims had asked whether it would be possible to press charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lutsenko’s Dutch colleague reportedly said that this possibility “cannot be ruled out”.

Lutsenko was unable to specify the precise number of possible suspects, but noted that Ukraine and the Netherlands are currently working to identify the direct perpetrators of the crime.

On 19 June, the JIT announced the first names of the persons accused of complicity in the downing of the Boeing over the Donbas. The suspects include Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, former defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR); Sergey Dubinsky, former head of DPR’s intelligence branch, and his subordinate Oleg Pulatov, all three of them Russian citizens. In addition, charges will be brought against Pulatov’s subordinate, the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

The Security Service of Ukraine began an investigation into the mentioned persons one day before the JIT’s official conclusions were announced. Dutch journalists and the Bellingcat group have also published their own lists of suspects.

In July 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine’s Donetsk province. All 298 people on board were killed. The Joint Investigation Team that was formed to investigate the catastrophe includes representatives of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. The trial has been scheduled for 2020.

 

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Kyiv promises to arrest Ukrainian MH17 catastrophe suspect

Thursday, June 20, 2019


Ukraine intends to arrest Leonid Kharchenko, the Ukrainian citizen who is suspected of complicity in the downing of flight MH17, said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, as cited by Interfax.

According to Lutsenko, Ukraine will do everything in its power to arrest this person. If it manages to do so, the Ukrainian government will organize a court session in the Netherlands, and will uphold the court’s decision on the case in accordance with the international agreement between Ukraine and the Netherlands, he clarified.

The MH17 catastrophe took place in July 2014. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) concluded that the Buk surface-to-air missile which hit the plane had been fired by the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Russia has denied any involvement in the catastrophe.

The JIT has identified four chief suspects in the MH17 crash: the Russian citizens Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov and the Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko. International arrest warrants have been issued for them, and they have been placed on the relevant wanted persons lists. The investigation has also asked Moscow and Kyiv to question the suspects.

JIT chief Fred Westerbeke said that a court hearing on the case will be held in the Hague on 9 March 2020.

 

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