Five and a half years ago, July 17, 2014 from Amsterdam airport Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur took off the liner “Malaysian airlines”, reminds the BBC. After a few hours in the skies over the Donbas it was a missile complex “Buk”. The plane crashed near the village Hrabovo. All 298 people on Board were killed. Including 80 children.
Today is not so far from this airport in the town of Badhoevedorp — began the trial of the suspects. They will be judged by national courts under local laws. This decision was made by a Joint investigation team. This body investigates the circumstances of the shoot down of flight MH17.
The composition of the Joint investigation team are the Netherlands, Ukraine, Malaysia, Belgium and Australia. But not Russia. Because the MH17 disaster has occurred not in Russia, and among victims there are no Russians. Most of those killed among the Dutch — 193.
“For us, today is an exciting moment — we present the evidence gathered so long… We want to reveal the entire chain — from the crew of the Beech to those who gave the orders of the Beech to go on the job 17 July 2014”, — told reporters the head of the criminal investigation Department of the police of the Netherlands Andy Craig.
In Shepelska court complex, where the court, in the air, feel the emotion, the correspondent of BBC Ukraine.
The relatives waited for this day for over five years. And here he came. They say that they believe in Dutch justice and are willing to wait for a judicial decision, even if the process drags on for years.
This excited the investigators. They were collecting evidence all these years and are continuing to investigate the tragedy.
Who is judged
Four accused three Russian citizens and one Ukrainian. Investigators believe that the Buk belonged to 53-the Kursk air defense brigade of the Russian Armed forces. According to investigators, each of the defendants were related to the transportation of this “Buka” and the fatal launch its missiles. Consequently, a massive loss of passengers and crew members.
Here are the names of the defendants:
Igor Girkin, known as Strelkov or with a call sign “Strelok”, a citizen of Russia. At the time of the tragedy Girkin was the so-called defense Minister of the self-proclaimed “DNR”. SBU intercepted conversation indicates that the next after knocking down an airliner the day Girkin discussed the return of “Buka” in Russia.
Sergey Dubinsky, nicknamed “Gloomy”, the citizen of Russia. The intercept of the security service of man nicknamed “Gloomy” instructed to transfer the Buk from Donetsk in the direction of the Snow to protect separatists from the Ukrainian artillery. Later on July 17 Dubinsky told how the separatists managed to shoot down, in his opinion, the Ukrainian “su”.
Oleg Pulatov with a call sign “Gyurza” is a Russian citizen. According to audiopirates SBU, the fighter with a call sign “Gyurza” was accompanied by “Buk” of Snow to the missile launch site and at the time of the fatal launch was next to the installation.
Leonid Kharchenko, nicknamed “Mole”, a citizen of Ukraine. In the SBU intercepted conversation of the separatists with the call sign “Mole” pointed out another fighter the path to the location of “Buka”. The investigation suggests that Melanie could be involved not only in the installation “Beech”, but to return him to Russia.
However, in the dock — no one. This court, in absentia.
Why tried in absentia
The Constitution of Russia, like Ukraine, forbid extradition. However, in 2017, Kiev and Amsterdam signed an agreement on legal cooperation in the case of MH17. The document provides for hearings by videoconference and execution of punishment in Ukraine.
All four suspects declared in the international search. According to investigators, the three accused the Russians are now in Russia, and Ukrainian Kharchenko can be not controlled by the Ukrainian power of the territory of Donbass.
In case of their recognition guilty the defendant faces life in prison. If the status of convicted Girkin, Dubinsky, Pulatov or Kharchenko decides to show the Dutch justice, will receive the opportunity of a retrial in the Netherlands.
The court will last at least a year. At least, the judicial complex is reserved for the hearing of the case of MH17 at least until March next year.
What impact the court may have for Russia and Ukraine
In 2018 the Netherlands and Australia formally accused Russia of Downing MH17 and urged to accept responsibility and to cooperate with the investigation. But the Kremlin criticizes the procedure of this investigation and its findings, and continues to deny any involvement in the tragedy.
Former Deputy foreign Minister of Ukraine Lana zerkal comments in the BBC saw this behavior manifestations of fear: “Russia resorts to writing incredible stories, when it comes to bringing down MH17. That’s the lie, wrapped in a wrapper of propaganda is a sign of fear. Fear to admit guilt, to take responsibility.”
In Ukraine there are accusations of failure to close the airspace over the conflict zone.
July 14, 2014, three days before the crash in Luhansk with “Buka” at the altitude of 6,500 metres was shot down Ukrainian An-26. On the same day, Ukraine has raised the lower limit for commercial flights at 9750 meters. And the Malaysian airliner was flying at an altitude of 10 058 meters.
On the night of 17 July, Russia banned its civilian aircraft to fly in areas adjacent to Ukraine areas at altitudes up to 16,000 meters.
According to the norms of the International civil aviation organization at the time of the tragedy MH17 there were no rules for the unconditional closure of the skies over conflict zones.