MH17 downing: Four men charged with murder after plane shot down over Ukraine in 2014

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 19 June 2019, 05:37 PM
MH17 downing: Four men charged with murder after airliner shot down over Ukraine in 2014
MH17 downing: Four men charged with murder after airliner shot down over Ukraine in 2014

Four people have been charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 passengers and crew. Dutch investigators have accused three Russians - Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov - and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko of involvement.

The court case over the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane will start in the Netherlands in March 2020, according to family members who were briefed ahead of an announcement by international investigators.

The airliner travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur was torn apart in mid-air after being hit by a missile over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists on July 17, 2014, investigators say.

"There is a court case on March 9 2020 against four people for murder," Silene Fredriksz, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the disaster, told reporters.

Asked if she personally blamed anyone for the crash, Fredriksz said: "Mr (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.

"Because he made this possible. He created this situation. He is the main responsible person." Russia has vehemently denied all involvement in the shooting down of MH17. On Wednesday it complained of being excluded from the probe despite "proactively" trying to be involved.

"You know our attitude towards this investigation. Russia had no opportunity to take part in it even though it showed initiative from... the very first days of this tragedy," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Dutch media have named several suspects including the head of the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade, the Russian unit identified by the probe last year.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the attack includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

The Netherlands and Australia said in May last year that they formally "hold Russia responsible" for the disaster, after the findings on the origin of the missile were announced.

Of the passengers who died, 196 were Dutch and 38 Australian. Any trial is likely to be in the Netherlands where the majority of the victims came from. The suspects could be tried in absentia as Russia does not extradite its nationals for prosecution, said Dutch broadcaster RTL, quoting anonymous sources.

"After five years, it is finally clear that justice will be done. This is very important for surviving relatives," Piet Ploeg, president of a Dutch victims' association who lost three family members on MH17, told news agency AFP.

First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 04:56 PM
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