3 men receive lifelong sentences for downing Malaysian flight MH17
Three men received life sentences for the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 above eastern Ukraine in 2014, while one was acquitted, a Dutch court ruled Thursday.
Russians Sergey Dubinskiy and Igor Girkin, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, were found guilty of causing the crash that killed 298 civilians. Another Russian, Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted on all charges.
The court called the proven charges “so severe that it holds that only the highest possible prison sentence would be appropriate."
The four men were not present in the courtroom. Pulatov was the only one represented by defense lawyers at the trial.
Dubisnky, Girkin and Kharchenko were also ordered to pay more than €16 million ($16.5 million) in compensation to the relatives of the victims.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down above eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 on board were killed, including 196 Dutch citizens.
The Hague confirmed the flight was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from the Pervomaisky area in the Kharkiv region.
Declaring the case as a non-international armed conflict in Ukraine, the court said Russia had overall control of separatist forces in eastern Ukraine when the attack occurred.
At the time of the attack, Girkin, a former Russian intelligence official, was defense minister and commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Kharchenko was commander of a pro-Russia separatist combat unit and took orders directly from Dubinskiy, according to the prosecutors.