Crime & Justice

Australia demands Russia ‘surrender’ citizens found guilty of downing MH17

Sydney, Australia, Nov 18 (EFE).- Australia demanded Friday that Russia “surrender” its citizens convicted for their roles in the 2014 downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine, which killed 298 people on board.

Russians Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko were on Thursday found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison by a Dutch court, while another Russian was acquitted.

The three convicted were tried in absentia and remain at large while, following the verdict, a Russian senator told state news agency Tass that Russia would not extradite its citizens.

The Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down by a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile fired from eastern Ukraine, which was in the hands of Russia-backed separatists.

The court also determined Russia had overall control at that time of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, from where the missile was launched.

“Separatists had direction from Russia. Russia supplied weapons, training, money and the missile which downed the plane,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said at a press conference on Friday morning in Adelaide.

“We call on Russia to surrender those convicted so they may face the court’s sentence for their heinous crime.”

She also said the verdict “delivers confirmation that the Russian Federation have responsibility” for the tragedy, and “no amount of avoidance, obfuscation, disinformation by the Russian Federation can avoid that fact.”

The court awarded the families damages of more than 16 million euros ($16.5 million), but it is unclear who will pay the compensation.

MH17 departed Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 17, 2014 carrying 298 people, including 80 children and 15 crew, when it lost contact with air traffic control over eastern Ukraine.

Of those on board, 196 were from the Netherlands, 43 from Malaysia, 38 from Australia and 10 were from the United Kingdom. EFE


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