Crime & Justice

MH17 trial: Four defendants, three unresolved questions

By Imane Rachidi

Amsterdam, Jun 7 (EFE).- Hearings for the MH17 trial will commence in the coming week with the objective of shedding light on three unresolved questions concerning the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

MH17 was brought down by a missile fired from war-torn eastern Ukraine during its flight between Schipol airport in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 17 July 2014. All 298 people onboard were killed.

Judges at the trial want to address three allegations from the prosecution, court president justice Hendrik Steenhuis said.

“Did the MH17 flight crash as a result of a Buk missile attack? Was a Buk missile launched from a crop field near Pervomaiskyi? And finally, did the defendants play a role in this?”

A Joint Investigation team concluded that the aircraft was attacked by a Russian-made Buk missile belonging to the Russian army, more specifically the 53rd brigade of anti-aircraft missiles, based in Kursk, Russia, near the Ukranian border.

According to the JIT, the rocket was transferred to an area controlled by rebels in eastern Ukraine in a convoy and was delivered to the pro-Russian separatists only days before the MH17 incident, a claim that Russia has consistently denied.

The court confirmed Monday that the United States has turned down requests to share more data collected from satellite images showing the missile launch, due to security concerns.

Three of the defendants, Russians Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, face rebellion charges for failing to appear before court in the Netherlands and showing no intention to collaborate.

The fourth defendant, Russian Oleg Pulatov, did not travel to the Netherlands either but sent a legal team to represent him, which he met with in Moscow to prepare his defense as he pleads not guilty.

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