Dutch Judge Convicts Former Russian Intelligence Agents In Connection With 2014 Downing Of Malaysian Aircraft

(Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Brent Foster Contributor
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Two former Russian intelligence agents and a Ukrainian separatist leader were convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison by a Dutch court for their role in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, the former Russian intelligence agents, along with Ukrainian separatist leader Leonid Kharchenko, received the convictions on murder charges Thursday, according to Reuters. The court found the three men responsible for helping coordinate the transport of the Russian BUK missile system that shot the aircraft down into Ukraine, the outlet reported.

Flight MH17, operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, was shot down July 17, 2014 as it flew over Ukrainian airspace on a routine passenger flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.

“Only the most severe punishment is fitting to retaliate for what the suspects have done,” Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said, according to Reuters. The crash claimed the lives of 298 passengers and crew members, and more than half of the victims were Dutch nationals, the outlet continued.

The trial followed an extensive police investigation by the Netherlands with the assistance of Australian, Belgian, Malaysian and Ukrainian authorities, Reuters reported. Four suspects in the downing received charges in 2019. (RELATED: Rebels Take Control Of Bodies From MH17 Crash, Store Them In Train Cars)

The court acknowledged that forces belonging to the Donetsk People’s Republic were under the “overall control” of Russia at the time of the crash, according to Reuters. Russian authorities described court’s ruling as “scandalous.”

Eyewitness testimony, along with photographs keeping track of how the missile system moved between Ukraine and Russia, played an integral role in the conviction, Reuters reported. Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko remain fugitives and are believed to be in Russia, according to the outlet.