Four to be charged over downing of MH17

Four to be charged over downing of MH17
Published on: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

By: Bernama

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Photo Source: Bernama

As expected, none of the four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, turned up at the District Court of The Hague here today to face the criminal charges preferred against them. In his opening remarks, Judge Hendrik Steenhuis who presided over a three-man bench, said the prosecutor had made all possible attempts to serve the summons on them.  The four accused are Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
They have been charged with causing the downing of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all 298 persons on board, punishable pursuant to Article 168 of the Dutch Criminal Code, and for murdering all on board, punishable pursuant to Article 289 of the same code.ADVERTISEMENT

If convicted, they will be sentenced to life imprisonment or a 30-year imprisonment term, without parole.
The judge said that in the course of attempting to serve the summons to the accused, the prosecutor had sent the summons to the last known residential address of one of the defendants but it was sent back.
He said another defendant upon knowing about the summons, had disclosed to the media that he was not guilty of the charges.ADVERTISEMENT

Following this, the prosecutor had attempted to contacted the defendants through social media, to inform them of their court case. 
“The prosecutor also tried to contact the defendants through Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger, but there was no reply from them,” Judge Steenhuis said.
He said that when contacted by phone, one of the defendants had answered the call but denied it was him. When prosecutor contacted him again, he did not pick up the calls. 
Judge Steenhuis said that since the defendants were absent at the trial, they would be tried in absentia. – Bernama

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