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Three guilty as court finds Russia-controlled group downed airliner

Three guilty as court finds Russia-controlled group downed airliner

Three guilty as court finds Russia-controlled group downed airliner

Three guilty as court finds Russia-controlled group downed airliner

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  • Three men were convicted by a Dutch court for shooting down flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.
  • 298 people died, including 80 children and 15 crew, when Russian-made missile brought down plane.
  • Convicted in absentia, two Russians and one Ukrainian given life sentences; third Russian found not guilty.
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Three men were convicted guilty of murder by a Dutch court for shooting down a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in the deaths of 298 people.

The court determined that a Russian-made missile fired by an armed group controlled by Russia and supplied by Russia brought down flight MH17.

The three men—two Russians and one Ukrainian—were convicted in absentia and given life sentences. A third Russian was found not guilty.

Prior to accusations of atrocities occurring there becoming a reality practically every day, the missile attack was one of the most infamous war crimes in Ukraine.

Many of the surviving family members of the victims think that the invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing geopolitical upheaval could have been prevented eight years ago if the world had behaved differently and stood up to Russia.

Despite the fact that the three convicted parties planned to shoot down a military rather than a civilian aircraft, the judges determined that it was an intentional attempt to bring down a jet.

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The only one of the four defendants who had a lawyer at the trial was Oleg Pulatov. Despite finding that he was aware of the missile, the judges declared him not guilty.

80 children and 15 crew members were among the 298 passengers that boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Over Ukraine, the aircraft was flying at 33,000 feet. It was early in Russia’s attempts to annex areas of the nation.

This was a relatively low-intensity conflict area at the time, although recent air combat had increased fighting. A number of military aircraft had been shot down in the months before.

In retaliation, Ukraine shut down the airspace up to 32,000 feet below ground level. However, flights continued to span the nation.

One thousand feet above this constrained airspace, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was travelling.

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It lost communication with air traffic control around 13:20 GMT.

The majority of passengers were from the Netherlands, then came Malaysia and Australia. They had packed for their ideal vacations, a symposium on AIDS, family gatherings, and more. All future plans vanished in a split second.

“I still miss them,” says Silene Fredriksz, her walls adorned with snapshots of son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy. The young lovers were heading to Bali, a treat after a difficult year.

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When Moscow invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, the wounds had just begun to heal.
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“It was heartbreaking for us,” Silene says. She is convinced the current conflict could have been avoided had the world taken a harder line in 2014.

“Putin has never been stopped, and still has not been stopped. And he will not stop until he is stopped,” Silene said. I hope the world wakes up now, because we knew it already eight years ago.”

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Russian officials have consistently denied any involvement and have instead put forth a variety of counterarguments, including claims that a Ukrainian fighter jet fired the missile or that Ukrainian government forces were to blame. In some cases, they have even created false evidence to bolster their claims.

These have also been thoroughly refuted using evidence obtained by a group of international investigators, and the Dutch court dismissed them.

The investigation team discovered that the 9M38M1 missile, which was launched from the eastern portion of Ukraine using a Buk missile system, had a Russian-made 9N314M-type payload that exploded upon impact.

The creator of the investigative website Bellingcat, Eliot Higgins, investigated the open source data. His team discovered connections to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of Russia and combed through 200 soldiers’ social media posts to confirm the identities and functions of numerous members of the group stationed at a Russian military barracks in Kursk. Bellingcat informed Dutch prosecutors of their findings. He believes that unmistakable evidence of Russia’s involvement has been made clear by the trial.

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“I think at this point, and especially with a guilty verdict,” Eliot told us, “anyone who would claim that Russia wasn’t involved with this shoot down is really a ridiculous person”.

Eliot Higgins believes that the events of 2014 and 2022 are intricately connected based on his research.

“People were just turning a blind eye to it, policymakers just weren’t comfortable with calling out Russia in a way they really should have done. And they didn’t react in the way that could have prevented the invasion in 2022. I think there should have been more military support for Ukraine, there should have been more sanctions, there should have been a stronger response than we saw at the time. There could have been preventative measures that would have saved a lot of lives.”

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The trial has provided a chance to dispel Russian misinformation. A different account of what happened that was supported by Almaz-Antey, the company that makes Buk missiles, was rejected by the judges because it was unreliable and false.
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“There was the disaster itself. But the next disaster, I would say, was that Russia never cooperated. And that gave extra pain for all of us. And why was that necessary? Just say sorry,” Hans de Borst tells us, as he shows us holiday photos of his 17-year-old daughter Elsemiek.

He clings to the recollections and the Elsemiek passport and boarding card that were found in tact among the rubble.

Families who lived close to the scene of the MH17 tragedy put their trust in the Dutch probe.

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“It is extremely important to me,” he says stoically, “because it’s that feeling of justice needing to be done in a world that kills people who just go on holiday. If justice is not being done then your whole feeling of a good world doesn’t exist anymore. So getting justice brought to you by so many people gives a good feeling and I hope, will give some peace about this subject.”

Investigators were able to determine the type of weapon, track its route (from a military barracks in Russia, across the border to the launch site in pro-Russian separatist controlled eastern Ukraine), and identify key suspects by piecing together clues such as intercepted phone calls, eyewitness accounts, and even metal fragments found in the crew members’ bodies.

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They are one Ukrainian and three Russians. Igor Girkin, who prosecutors claim is a former colonel in the Russian intelligence service FSB, is the most well-known of them.

The legal case has been dropped by the Kremlin, and none of the accused will show up in court. One person only—Oleg Pulatov—hired a group of Dutch attorneys to represent him in court.

Although it is unlikely that anyone will be sentenced to prison for this mass murder, the research has produced an irrefutable historical record and given the families some comfort.

“We will never get our children back,” Silene Fredriksz accepts, “but… we need the truth. And we need justice. This is a small part of our justice.”

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Dutch court determines Russian-made missile downed MH17
Dutch court determines Russian-made missile downed MH17

A Dutch court has decided that a Buk missile was responsible for...

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