On 17 July 2014, flight MH17 – a Boing 777 of Malaysian Airlines – was shot down above the Eastern Ukraine with a Russian buk missile. The flight was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and all 298 passengers were killed of which 196 were Dutch.
As reported by Danish newspaper, Nordjyske, a Dutch court has now found three men guilty of the shoot down of the Malaysian Airline plane saying it was above reasonable doubt the flight was hit by a missile of the Russian BUK missile system. A fourth man who stood accused has been cleared of charges.
The men, former Russian intelligence officers, Igor Girkin and Sergej Dubinskij, and Ukrainian separatist leader, Leonid Khartjenko, was accused of arranging and placing the BUK missile system, although not for firing the missile.
All three have been convicted of murder and of intentionally causing an airplane disaster. They have been sentenced to life in prison in absentia and is believed to currently be located in Russia.
The Malaysian Airline flight was shot down during fights between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces. Russia has subsequently declined to have anything to do with the incident and has accused Ukraine of shooting down the passenger flight. The investigation was led by the Netherlands with the support of Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyj, applauded the Dutch criminal justice system of pronouncing an important judgement.
– Holding the instigates accountable is essential as new criminal acts will follow if someone believes they can avoid conviction, the President said to Reuters.