MH17 plane crash: Ukrainian among the suspects
The Dutch-led joint investigation (JIT) named four suspects in the the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Almost five years after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, international investigators officially named four suspects, – reports the NOS.
The Dutch-led international team has opened criminal cases against Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko.
Igor Girkin (also known as Strelkov) is a former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service, prosecutors say. He was given the minister of defence title in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
He is believed to be the highest military officer in the area who was in direct contact with the Russian Federation. In a statement Mr Girkin said: “I can only say that militia (police) did not shoot down the Boeing.”
Sergei Dubinskiy (known as Khmuriy), who was employed by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, was a deputy of Mr Girkin and also in regular contact with Russia, according to prosecutors.
Oleg Pulatov, known as Giurza, is a former soldier of the Spetznaz GRU – the special forces of Russia military intelligence – and was deputy head of the intelligence service in Donetsk.
Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko has no military background but led a combat unit as a commander in Eastern Ukraine, prosecutors said.
Investigators said the soldiers “formed a chain linking DNR with the Russian Federation”. This link was how the separatists obtained heavy equipment from Russia including the Buk launcher used to fire at MH17 with “terrible consequences”.
The investigation also released a wiretapped phone call between Putin aide Vladislav Surkov and former DNR head Alexander Borodai in which they discuss Russia providing military assistance.
“International arrest warrants have now been been sent out, with the individuals placed on lists internationally. Also investigators have collected enough evidence to show that Russia provided the missile launcher used to shoot down MH17”, – told the chief Dutch prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke.
The court hearings against the suspects will begin on March 9, 2020 in the Netherlands.
Reference. On July 17, 2014, the Boeing 777 belonging to Malaysia Airlines on the MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur disappeared from the radar screens over Shakhtarsk in Donetsk region. It was shot out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian separatists. A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members were killed on the flight. The passengers were from 17 countries.
After almost four years, in May 2018, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) at a press conference at The Hague demonstrated fragments of the rocket, which downed the plane. The missile was launched from the BUK system belonging to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile based in the Russian city of Kursk.
The next day, Australia and the Netherlands officially announced that it was Russia that was responsible for shooting down the Malaysian plane. The European Council also called on the Russia to take responsibility and fully promote all attempts to establish the truth, justice and guilt of specific individuals involved in the crime.
Russia still denies any involvement in the tragedy – almost five years after the downing of the airliner.