Three Russians, One Ukrainian Charged with Murder over MH17 Crash

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Dr Mahathir unhappy with MH17 charges.

Four suspects will face murder charges over the death of 298 people, who were the passengers and crew onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, five years ago.

In a statement produced by Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security, a trial will start in March 2020 in the country.

“It has been decided that the Hague district court will hear the case and that the hearings will take place at Justice Complex Schiphol,” said the statement.

The New York Times reported on a news conference in the Netherlands on Wednesday, where the Dutch-led investigative team announced charges against Igor Girkin, a former colonel in the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB; and Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, both of whom had worked for the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU.

Prosecutors also charged Leonid Kharchenko, who is a Ukrainian citizen but led a Russian-backed separatist unit under the command of Dubinsky.

On July 17, 2014, flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine after departing Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur.

Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said the team was convinced that a BUK TELAR missile was used to down MH17.

According to official information, the plane was carrying 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysian, 38 Australian, 12 Indonesian and 10 British passengers, as well as one from New Zealand.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has described the charges as a political plot against Russia.

“We are very unhappy. From the very beginning, it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing.

“Even before they examined the case, they have already claimed it (the shooting down of MH17) was done by Russia,” said Dr Mahathir to reporters.

He said Malaysia is not convinced with the findings and demand that the investigators provide proof that the Russians were behind the shooting.

“This is a ridiculous thing. Someone shoots a gun and you are not able to see who, but you know who shot,” said Dr Mahathir.

When asked if Malaysia’s stance was because it had a stake with Russia, who are the buyers of its palm oil, Dr Mahathir said no.

“No, no. That is different,” he said.

As for family members of those who perished in the MH17 crash, they welcome news of the suspects having been identified and they look forward to finally seeing justice served after the long wait of five years.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed regret for being the target of “completely unfounded” accusations on its alleged involvement by the team investigating the MH17 flight crash.

The ministry, in a statement issued through the Embassy of Russia in Malaysia, said the unfounded accusations were intended to discredit it in the eyes of the international community.

It added that the JIT did not produce a single shred of concrete evidence to back up its “groundless statements”.

“The JIT continues to put forward not entirely reasonable arguments, some of which are based on dubious information sources.

“Meanwhile, the data submitted to the investigation by Russia continues to be wilfully ignored.

“Moreover, the JIT representatives accuse Russia of withholding full cooperation.

“We categorically deny such accusations,” it said in a statement on Thursday (June 20).

It added that Russia had been very keen in finding the truth and has been willing to help with the investigations in every aspect from day one.

Russia also said it had actively cooperated with the Netherlands and presented all information it had on the MH17 crash.

It added that Russia’s relevant agencies had also carried out “an enormous amount of unprecedented work” from declassifying information on Russian military equipment and conducting a meticulous experiment in collaboration with weapons maker Almaz-Antei, to providing primary radar data and documents showing that the missile that downed the Malaysian plane belonged to Ukraine.

Reuters

It also released precision expert analysis proving that the video clips supporting the JIT’s conclusions were fabricated.

“Moreover, Russia had suggested working together from the outset.

“Instead, international investigators excluded Russia from full participation in the JIT, reducing Russian efforts to a secondary role,” it said.

Russia also said the JIT made Ukraine a full participant in the investigation, and allegedly gave it an “opportunity to falsify evidence and completely evade responsibility” for failing to close its air space.

“Under the circumstances, we continue to raise justified questions about the quality of the JIT’s performance.

“All this confirms the apprehensions we voiced earlier regarding the biased, one-sided nature of the inquiry.

“Nevertheless, the Russian Federation will continue assisting the investigation so that the truth about the MH17 crash is established and the real culprits are duly punished,” it said.