A verdict in the murder trial for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is scheduled for Nov. 17. The regularly scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014 as it flew over Ukraine by a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile launched from a field in pro-Russian separatist-controlled Donetsk Region. The wreckage from the flight scattered over an area of 50 square km (20 square miles), with most of it falling just south-east of Hrabove. It’s the deadliest shot-down incident to date, as all 298 on board, mostly Dutch citizens, were killed.
A Dutch court is handling the trial of the four defendants, one Ukrainian and three Russians, who are alleged to have supplied the weapon. They are Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko and the Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov.
The Russians are connected to military and intelligence services, while the Ukrainian led a separatist faction reporting to one of the Russians.
The Ukrainian government produced audio transmissions in which pro-Russian separatists talked of having shot down a plane. Video evidence also surfaced allegedly showing pro-Russia rebels combing through still-smoking wreckage, seemingly dismayed at having found a civilian aircraft.
The ongoing armed conflict in Donbas, which began in March 2014, greatly complicated the investigation and a mission organized by the Dutch Ministry of Defense did not reach the site until three and a half months later. Back in 2015 Russia officially opposed the holding of a tribunal being held. Prosecutors are seeking life terms for all four suspects, who remain at large.
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