Wednesday, January 19

They ask for life in prison for Russians accused of shooting down flight MH17


Correspondent in Brussels

Updated:

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The life sentence in a Dutch court for those accused of shooting down the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine has come at one of the worst times in relations between Russia and the West. The four people tried in absentia – that is, they are not present in the courtroom – are three Russians and one Ukrainian, and they are held responsible for having fired a Russian-made missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Iraq. Ukraine.

The prosecutors of the Schipol Regional Court, which is where the airport from which the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, have decided to seek the maximum penalty for those considered responsible for the downing of the Malaysian plane on July 17, 2014, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The defendants, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko, are believed to have provided a missile system that pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists used to fire on the Malaysia Airlines flight.

Wreckage of Malaysian Airlines plane downed by missile while flying over Ukraine
Wreckage of Malaysian Airlines plane downed by missile while flying over Ukraine – Reuters

Dutch prosecutors said in their plea that the 298 deceased “have become victims of a struggle that has torn Ukraine apart to this day in a world that makes no effort to discover the truth and helps its citizens to become outlaws.” , in reference to the situation of the accused. The investigation described how the four defendants were identified and what their role was in the deployment of the Russian Army Buk missile that was used to bring down flight MH17.

Dutch trial in absentia of suspects fuels tension between Minsk and Moscow

As prosecutors claim, the Ukrainian civil conflict and the tensions fueling the Russian regime in Vladimir Putin They are currently the main source of tension in the European neighborhood. The Ukrainian President, Volodimir zelenski, has requested and obtained the political commitment from NATO that the Alliance would not consent to a new Russian invasion, but it has not reached an explicit commitment on a timetable for its entry into the organization, which is its main aspiration. Russia continues to request “security guarantees” from the United States and NATO, which means that it awaits an explicit commitment that Ukraine will not be integrated into the organization, before withdrawing the soldiers it has concentrated in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border. That is why this petition for life imprisonment against four people linked to Russian positions in the Ukrainian conflict is an ingredient that does not help to calm the environment.

The relatives of the victims have been satisfied with the request of the prosecutors, taking into account that this is the maximum possible penalty in the Netherlands, even knowing that it is very difficult to think that Moscow will ever agree to hand over these people to let them be incarcerated.

The sentence, in a year

In any case, the final sentence will not be known for about a year, so unexpected events cannot be ruled out in the remainder of the process.

This is not an International Criminal Court process, also based on Holland, but from the ordinary Justice of this country, since the plane left its territory and a large part of the victims are Dutch. For this reason, a fight between the Netherlands, with the support of the EU in certain aspects, and Russia will be discussed in diplomatic terms.

In its day, the United States managed to get Libya to turn over terrorists who had been found guilty of an attack that downed a plane over Scotland, which can hardly be considered a precedent for expecting Russia to agree to do such a thing.

To establish a reliable version of what happened in very confusing circumstances, the Dutch Justice has used all kinds of radar and satellite images, hundreds of witness statements, photos and video footage, Google Earth, Google Street View, weather reports, data from cell phone towers, wiretapping, voice research and voice recognition, as well as dozens of interviews and analysis of hundreds of messages on social networks.

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