Prosecutors call for life sentencing in downing of flight MH17

Dutch prosecutors are calling for life sentences for three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with murder in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, Reuters reported

Prosecutor Manon Ridderbeks on Wednesday called for Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko to spend the rest of their lives in prison for the incident, which led to the deaths of all 298 people on board the flight. 

Prosecutors also said the four defendants were linked to a Russian-backed rebels group in eastern Ukraine and played a significant role in the events that led to the downing of the jet. 

An international team of investigators concluded in May 2018 that the four men occupied the launcher, which belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, used to shoot down the aircraft, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, according to Reuters. 

Prosecutors added that the group worked together to get a Buk missile from Russia to eastern Ukraine to reinforce separatists, who fired it at flight MH17, mistakenly thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane in 2014. 

They planned this violence beforehand and they organized it in close cooperation,” prosecutor Thijs Berger said in court. 

All four men have denied involvement in the incident, with Dubinsky telling a Dutch media outlet that the life sentence request from prosecutors was “totally predictable.”

“Our guilt has already been determined,” Dubinsky said. 

Pulatov, another defendant in the case, sent an attorney to represent him in the case, while other defendants haven’t cooperated and are being tried in absentia. 

Pulatov’s attorneys are expected to give closing arguments in March and a verdict will be reached by the end of 2022, Reuters noted.

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