Nearly five years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in Ukraine killing 298 people, prosecutors brought their first criminal charges against four suspects Wednesday.
The Joint Investigation Team, which consists of officials from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, charged Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, reported BBC. The suspects are not accused of firing the missile that took down the plane but of acquiring the missile “with the goal to shoot a plane,” reported CNN.
The suspects are “just as punishable as the person who committed the crime,” Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said according to CNN. (RELATED: UN Releases Most Complete Report To Date On Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder. The Findings Don’t Look Good For Saudi Arabia)
Girkin is a former colonel in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Dubinskiy worked for Russian military intelligence agency GRU and Pulatov was in Russia’s special forces, investigators said according to CNN.
Flight MH17 was shot down over a war-torn region of Ukraine near the Russian border on July 17, 2014. The missile was fired from a launcher belonging to the Russian military, investigators said in May 2018. However, Russia denies involvement and has tried to shift blame to Ukrainian forces, reported CNN.
MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, when it went down over territory held by pro-Russian separatists, according to CNN. The suspects’ court case starts in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020, according to BBC.
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