January 23, 2022

Dutch prosecutors request life imprisonment against four suspects

Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday (December 22nd) demanded life imprisonment against the four men prosecuted for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. They are charged with the murder of the 298 people who were in his house. edge.

The Russians Sergei Dubinsky, Igor Guirkin and Oleg Poulatov as well as the Ukrainian Leonid Khartchenko, four senior officials of the pro-Russian separatists from eastern Ukraine, are accused of having shot down the plane with a Buk surface-to-air missile brought from a Russian military base – Moscow for its part has always denied any involvement.

Prosecutors said the four suspects played a central role in delivering an anti-aircraft battery, presumably intended to strike a Ukrainian warplane. “If that was their intention, it does not change the accusation of making it a criminal act”, underlined the prosecutors. Dutch law “Does not distinguish between military and civilian aircraft. Any violence against aviation must be severely punished ”, they argued.

“The suspects used the missile” Buk as a clean weapon, underlined prosecutor Thijs Berger. In hearings this week, Berger said the men on trial “Did not press the button themselves, but (…) used it for their armed struggle with the aim of destroying a plane ”.

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Accused absent at trial

The best known of the suspects, Igor Guirkin, 49, nicknamed “Strelkov” (“gunman”), was one of the main separatist commanders at the start of the conflict with the Ukrainian army five years ago, and probably their most media representative at the time. Sergei Dubinsky, 57, is said to be linked to Russian military intelligence. Oleg Poulatov, 53, is a former member of the Russian special forces and deputy to Mr Dubinsky. Leonid Khartchenko, 48, is said to have led a separatist unit in eastern Ukraine.

None of the suspects made it to the trial, which started in March 2020 in the Netherlands. Only Mr Poulatov is represented by lawyers. The hearings come against a backdrop of growing Russian-Western tensions around Ukraine. Americans and Europeans accuse Moscow of preparing a military offensive there.

The verdict of the Schiphol court, near Amsterdam and located a stone’s throw from the airport from where the tragically fated Boeing took off, is not expected before the end of 2022.

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The World with AFP