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Flight MH17 shot down by Buk launcher from “DPR”-controlled territory, Hague court rules

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Donbas in July 2014 by a Russian missile from the Buk air defense system (SAM) from the direction of the village of Pervomaiske (controlled by the so-called “DPR”), ruled the Hague District Court during its last and final session reviewing the case. Russia gave direct orders to the «separatists» and exercised effective control over “DPR” territory. The verdict is still being announced at the time of publication.

Russia controlled the territory of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”, or “DPR” at the time of the crash, the court noted. At least one of the defendants, Igor Girkin, was in contact with former Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov. There are four defendants in the first case: the Russian Igor Girkin (Strelkov), who named himself the defense minister of the so-called “DPR”, the former “DPR” head of counterintelligence Sergey Dubinsky, as well as his subordinates Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. Earlier, the prosecutors had demanded that they all be sentenced to life imprisonment. All of the defendants are being tried in absentia. Pulatov is the only defendant whose lawyers are participating in the process. Prosecutors had previously noted how he was confused in his testimony.

The verdict effectively found Russia guilty of shooting down flight MH17, as Moscow gave direct orders to the “separatists.”

The court also recalled that Russia did not recognize its control of the “DPR” in 2014 and continues to deny it, as do the defendants. Consequently, they will not be considered members of the Russian military, meaning combatant immunity does not apply to them, and there are no restrictions on their conviction.

New verdicts will be announced soon. In the following stages, the court will consider the involvement of more high-ranking politicians and security officials in the attack on the plane.

In June, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution in Strasbourg on “Ensuring Accountability for the downing of flight MH17,” which also referred to the Russian Buk missile. According to PACE, Russian authorities spread misinformation, including contradictory versions of events, and created confusion surrounding the incident.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, flying flight MH17 from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, was shot down over the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. There were 298 people on board, all of whom died. A joint investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider identified the key suspects in this case, bearing call signs “Orion” and “Dolphin.” “Dolphin” turned out to be Colonel General Nikolay Fedorovich Tkachev, the chief inspector of the Central Military District of Russia. “Orion” was revealed to be acting Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) General Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, also known as former Defense Minister of South Ossetia Andrei Laptev. He led the actions of Russian troops in Ukraine and commanded the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC).

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