MH17 trial ends as judges prepare to deliver their verdicts

Photo: N. van der Pas
Photo: N. van der Pas

Judges in The Hague will announce their verdicts in the long-running MH17 murder case later on Thursday, more than eight years after the air disaster.

Four suspects – three Russians and one Ukrainian – have been charged with causing the crash of flight MH17 which was shot down over eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board.

‘There is a lot of anticipation,’ Piet Ploeg, chairman of the Vliegramp MH17 foundation, told broadcaster NOS. He lost his brother, sister in law and nephew in the crash. ‘People have waiting for this moment for eight years. It is an enormous step forward in the search for truth and justice.’

None of the men is in custody and only one retained a lawyer. Prosecutors have demanded a life sentence for all four.

None of the men are accused of actually firing the missile that shot the Boeing 777 out of the sky in 2014 but they did allegedly participate in a ‘joint plan'” to transport the surface-to-air missile to the firing location in eastern Ukraine.

‘That they did not press the button is legally irrelevant, prosecutor Thijs Berger said earlier in the trial. ‘Legally, the result is the same.’

The official investigation concluded in 2016 that the plane was shot down from Ukrainian farmland by a BUK missile ‘controlled by pro-Russian fighters’. That conclusion has been disputed by Russia, which claims that Ukrainian fighters were responsible.

Everyone on board flight MH17 was killed when it was struck by a missile on July 17, 2014, and crashed into fields in eastern Ukraine. Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch.

The court announcement can be followed via a livestreaming service from 1.30pm

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