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NETHERLANDS-RUSSIA-UKRAINE-MALAYSIA-AVIATION-MH17 Fred Westerbeke, Chief Prosecutor with the National Prosecutor's Office of the Netherlands, speaks on the ongoing investigation of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in 2014  (AFP or licensors)

Murder charges filed over downing of flight MH17

The international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has charged three Russians and a Ukrainian separatist with the murder of 298 people on board the plane.

By Vatican News

Four men – three Russians and a Ukrainian – have been charged with murder in connection with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. The subsequent investigation was led by the Dutch Safety Board, as a majority of the victims were from the Netherlands. The DSB determined that the plane was struck by a Russian-made “Buk” anti-aircraft missile fired from territory held by Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels.

On Wednesday, a separate Dutch-led international joint investigation team said they have collected enough evidence to show that Russia provided the missile launcher used to shoot down flight MH17. Investigators accused Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatove; and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko of involvement in the attack. Dutch National Police chief Wilbert Paulissen said all four have been charged with murder, adding that their trial was scheduled to begin next March.

Lead prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said international arrest warrants had been issued for the suspects. He said the investigative team will not ask Russia and Ukraine to extradite the subjects, as the constitutions of both countries prohibit extradition. But he said he would ask Russia “to hand the summons to the suspects who are in the Russian Federation”, and would also ask Russia to arrange for the suspects to be interviewed about the charges.

Speaking by phone with The Associated Press News Agency, one of the suspects, Igor Girkin, who was a military chief of the rebels in the area at the time of the disaster, denied that the separatists shot down the plane. Another rebel leader, Alexander Borodai, also a Russian national, has also denied the rebels were responsible.

19 June 2019, 14:59