AFP, Released Monday, December 20, 2021 at 6:21 p.m.
Four suspects accused of shooting down a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 and the 298 people on board were killed, Dutch court prosecutors said Monday from Schiphol.
The Russians Sergei Dubinsky, Igor Guirkin and Oleg Poulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kartchenko, four top pro-Russian separatists from eastern Ukraine, have been accused of shooting down MH17 with a ground missile.
Dutch prosecutors said the four suspects played a key role in providing a BUK anti-aircraft battery, which could have been intended to attack a Ukrainian fighter jet.
“If it was their intention, it would not change the charge that it is a crime,” lawyer Thieves Berger told the judges.
“A target error does not change the evidence that such a crime was committed.”
The suspects, all refused to take part in the trial in the Netherlands and, in their absence, “used the BUK missile as a tool to serve their own military interests, thereby attacking MH17,” he added.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says a plane was shot down by a missile brought from a Russian military base in eastern Ukraine during an armed conflict with pro-Russian separatists. Moscow has always denied any involvement.
Mr Berger said those under investigation “did not press the button themselves, but (…) used it in an armed struggle with the intent to destroy the aircraft”.
– ‘Maximum fine’ –
Only Mr Pavladov is represented by lawyers.
Prosecutors will describe the evidence on Monday and Tuesday, including wiretapping, the circumstances surrounding the missile attack, and the defendants.
The claims are expected to be complied with Wednesday, and will include “comprehensive justification for the sentence demanded,” a court spokesman told AFP, adding that the “maximum sentence is life imprisonment.”
The verdict of Schiphol Court near Amsterdam and the tragic Boeing departure from the airport was set in stone, not expected by the end of 2022.
When the trial began in March 2020, prosecutors said they would do everything they could to ensure that if the court passed a sentence “in the Netherlands or elsewhere” it would be carried out.
A well-known of the suspects, 49-year-old Igor Kirkin, nicknamed “Strelkov” (“Gunner”), was one of the main separatist commanders at the beginning of the conflict with the Ukrainian military five years ago and probably their media representative. Time.
Sergei Dupinsky, 57, is said to be linked to Russian military intelligence. Oleg Poulatov, 53, a former member of the Russian Special Forces and Mr. Dupinsky’s deputy. Leonid Kartchenko, 48, is said to have led a separatist group in eastern Ukraine.
The inquiries come in the wake of growing Russian-Western tensions around Ukraine. Americans and Europeans accuse Moscow of preparing a military offensive there.
– “Corruption” Russia –
Earlier this year the court heard horrific testimonies from relatives of the victims, sharing grief over the loss of children, parents and siblings, calling for justice for “corrupt” Russia.
Since the Kremlin annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014, Kiev has been fighting the pro-Moscow uprising in two secluded areas along the Russian border.
Western nations have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia amid international outcry over the crash of MH17.
Russia has recently amassed troops near the Ukrainian border. The West accused it of plotting to invade for several weeks, threatening to impose sanctions if it attacked Moscow.
Moscow denies these claims.