Dutch court convicts three for Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane crash
Three men with links to Russia were convicted in a Dutch court Thursday over the 2014 downing of a passenger plane that killed all 298 people on board, AP reported.
The big picture: Investigators say Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile system over rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014. Most of the passengers on board were from the Netherlands.
- A fourth man who was charged in the incident was acquitted.
- The four men — three Russians and one Ukrainian— were tried in absentia and are believed to be in Russian-controlled territory, meaning they are unlikely to serve any sentence.
- The judges who delivered the verdict said Russia had overall control of separatist forces at the time of the downing of the plane.
State of play: The court ruled that the plane crash was the result of a deliberate act, even though the group had intended to target a military aircraft and not a civilian one, the BBC reported.
- The court convicted two Russians and one Ukrainian for the murder of the aircraft's 298 passengers. One Russian was acquitted due to lack of evidence, per AP.
- The three convicted men were sentenced to life in prison.
- "There is no reasonable doubt," that MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile, presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said Thursday, Reuters reported.
- The Russian suspects — Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov — are all former intelligence officers and the Ukrainian, Leonid Kharchenko, is a Ukrainian separatist leader, per Reuters.
- The trial had lasted over two years. Both the suspects and prosecutors have two weeks to file an appeal if they wish, AP reported.