Two Russians and one Ukrainian convicted of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, murdering 298 passengers

Two Russians and one Ukrainian convicted of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, murdering 298 passengers

Two Russians and a Ukrainian have been found guilty of downing a passenger jet and killing all 298 people on board.

The men - two Russian former intelligence officers and a Ukrainian separatist leader - were convicted at a Dutch court on Thursday, for their role in shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

A fourth suspect on trial was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said evidence presented by prosecutors at a trial that lasted more than two years proved that the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought down by a Buk missile fired by pro-Moscow Ukrainian rebels on July 17, 2014.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the guilty verdicts as “an important step in securing justice for the families of the victims”, and called the downing of the plane “a shocking violation of international norms”.

“Two hundred and ninety eight lives, including those of 10 British nationals, were tragically lost on July 17, 201,” he said. “Thousands more have been devastated in the years since, as family and friends continue to grieve for their loved ones.

“The downing of MH17 was a shocking violation of international norms which keep our societies safe. It serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of Russia’s actions in Ukraine over many years.

“My thoughts remain with the families of all those killed in this heinous attack, including people from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines, New Zealand and Canada.”

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said the ruling is a signal to the world, including Russia, that “every war crime committed by the Russians will be documented, investigated, and brought to a conclusion.”

None of the defendants appeared for the trial that began in March 2020, and if they are convicted it is unlikely they will serve a sentence any time soon.

The prosecution had sought life sentences for all four.

Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an appeal.

More to follow.