FILE – Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER with registration 9M-MRD operating as flight MH17 is seen at the G3 gate of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before it took off, heading to Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2014. The aircraft was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. REUTERS/Yaron Mofaz
FILE – Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER with registration 9M-MRD operating as flight MH17 is seen at the G3 gate of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before it took off, heading to Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2014. The aircraft was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. REUTERS/Yaron Mofaz

Prosecutors start closing arguments in Dutch murder trial over downed MH17 flight

By Reuters Time of article published Dec 20, 2021

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Amsterdam – Dutch prosecutors on Monday began three days of closing arguments during which they will make their sentencing demand in the 20-month-trial in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

Three Russian and a Ukrainian could face sentences of up to life if found guilty of helping supply the missile system used to fire a rocket at the passenger jet as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people onboard were killed.

A sentencing demand was expected on Wednesday.

Prosecutors presenting their closing arguments on Monday said the plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile.

Prosecutor Thijs Berger recalled the moment on July 17, 2014when Ukrainian air traffic control lost contact with flight MH17.

"At that moment a warhead from a BUK missile detonated to the left of the cockpit, shrapnel and missile parts pierced the left of the cockpit and the accompanying blast does the rest," Berger said.

"The passengers of flight MH17 didn't stand a chance," he added.

A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. File photo: Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev

None of the defendants were present in court. One suspect, Russian Oleg Pulatov, is represented by lawyers during the trial, but remains at large. The others, Russians Sergey Dubinsky and Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, have never cooperated with the court and are being tried in absentia.

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels during fighting with Ukrainian government troops,international investigators say.

After years of collecting evidence, a Dutch-led international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) concluded in 2019that the missile launcher used to hit the civilian airplane came from a Russian army base just across the border.

The Dutch government has said it holds Russia responsible but Moscow has always denied involvement and has promoted a range of alternative theories, which the international investigators rejected as unsupported by evidence.

A verdict is likely to be handed down late next year.

Reuters

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