Russia’s role, facts and background


Vor more than eight years, the passenger flight MH17 shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. On Thursday, the verdict is to be spoken in a trial against four alleged persons responsible. They have been charged with 298 counts of murder, and prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment. Since March 2020, Dutch judges at the competent court in The Hague have been hearing in the absence of the accused.

What happened

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam-Schiphol bound for Kuala Lumpur. The machine never arrived there, it crashed in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk near the village of Hrabowe. An international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) later concluded that the plane was shot down from the ground at 4:20 p.m. local time. The East of Ukraine was already contested at the time, and the determined point of the launch was controlled by pro-Russian forces at the time of the crash.

On board the plane were passengers and crew members from ten countries, including four Germans. Several countries called for an international tribunal, but a trial before a United Nations court was vetoed of Russia. Since 193 of the victims came from the Netherlands, a process under national law began there in March 2020.

The alleged course of action

The five states from which most of the victims came – along with the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine – formed the investigative team after the crash to reconstruct the events. They came to the conclusion that the plane was hit by a Soviet-type “Buk” missile. Investigators assigned the missile system to the 53rd Air Defense Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces. It was transferred from Russia to the Donbass and brought back after it was shot down. According to the JIT, the findings come from witness statements, debris from the plane and the rocket, satellite images and radar information, photos and videos of the transport of the rocket and telephone recordings between the accused.



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