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Dutch Judge Delivers MH17 Airline Verdict

    Dutch Judge Delivers MH17 Airline Verdict
    Last updated: 2 weeks ago
    Image credit: Washington Post

    Facts

    • On Thursday, a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian national of murder in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 — the incident killed all 298 passengers and crew. All three men commanded pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region. [1]
    • The presiding Judge said the prosecutors had presented clear evidence that the Boeing 777, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a Russian-made missile fired by pro-Kremlin Ukrainian fighters on July 17, 2014. The three men were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment; a fourth man was acquitted because of a lack of evidence. [2]
    • As Judge Hendrik Steenhuis read the verdict, the family members of the victims stood weeping. Steenhuis stated, "Only the most severe punishment is fitting to retaliate for what the suspects have done, which has caused so much suffering to so many victims and so many surviving relatives." [3]
    • The court did recognize that the shooting down of MH17 might have resulted from a military mistake. Steenhuis clarified to the court that "such an error did not change the intent." [4]
    • The court said it wasn’t possible to establish who gave the order to launch the missile, but the prosecutors presented telephone intercepts and video footage suggesting how the defendants had moved the missile launcher from Russia to the Donetsk region. [5]
    • The three men remain fugitives and are believed to be in Russia, which is unlikely to extradite any of them. The Russian government has 14 days to file an appeal on behalf of the three men. [6]
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    Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Family and friends of the victims have felt devastating pain for more than eight years, and now justice has finally been served. The Dutch court ruled on the state responsibility of the Kremlin for this tragedy. The verdict clearly shows that the international community will not accept impunity — those responsible for this heinous crime must be held to account.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This is a politicized ruling and has no merit. The prosecutors failed to present any hard evidence. The court's double standards and one-sided approach are especially evident in light of the recent incident involving Ukrainian missiles striking the territory of Poland — once again, Russia was scapegoated.

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