The verdict of the Hague court in the MH17 case: why three were convicted, and the fourth is innocent

The verdict of the Hague court in the MH17 case: why three were convicted, and the fourth is innocent
The verdict of the Hague court in the MH17 case: why three were convicted, and the fourth is innocent
18 November, 11:24Photo: РИА Новости
The court in The Hague in the case of the downing of flight MH17 announced the verdict for three of the four defendants: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergei Dubinsky and Leonid Kharchenko.

Oleg Pulatov was found not guilty. Vadim Lukashevich, an aviation expert and author of books about the Boeing 777 crash, commented on the NI verdict.

Natalya Seybil

- The district court of The Hague found Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Leonid Kharchenko guilty of the death of the Malaysian Boeing MH 17, and Oleg Pulatov not guilty. Was this decision expected for you?

- Four different criminal cases were considered in one legal proceeding. Despite the fact that the prosecutor's office asked for the same sentence for all the accused - life imprisonment, which is the highest measure in Dutch law, the sentences handed down by the court can be different. What we heard today was unexpected for me. The impartiality and objectivity of the Dutch court became obvious. Pulatov, who mocked the court in his video messages and participated in the process to protect his good name, has been released from the charges. This is very cool!

We live in modern Russian law - if accused, then guilty. The Hague District Court demonstrated a different practice of legal proceedings and law enforcement: if a person is accused, but no solid evidence of his direct participation in the crime is presented in court, then the court does not just give him a shorter sentence, but says that he is innocent.

During the court hearings, the guilt of four defendants was considered: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), the so-called “Minister of Defense of the DPR”, who called up Moscow, asked for weapons, and led the entire process. He had under his command the “chief of intelligence of the DPR” Sergey Dubinsky, to whom Oleg Pulatov was subordinate. At the next level - Leonid Kharchenko. The first three characters are citizens of the Russian Federation, the fourth, Kharchenko, is a citizen of Ukraine.

The court assessed the role of each, found that the plane was shot down from the Russian Buk air defense system in the summer of 2014 over the war zone in eastern Ukraine and concluded that in 2014 Russia had full control over the DPR, from whose territory the missile was launched " Buk" on a civil aircraft. The court pointed out that the Russian Federation supplied weapons and itself participated in military actions, bearing responsibility for the actions of those who served in the self-proclaimed republic. But it was not possible to prove that Pulatov was directly involved in this particular "Buk" and in this particular launch.

The roles were distributed as follows: Dubinsky and Kharchenko are accomplices in the crime. Dubinsky gave orders where to move the Buk, what to do with it, and so on, and Kharchenko carried out these orders - accompanied, guarded the installation, and so on.

- Who directly carried out the launch of the rocket on the plane?

- The court said that it could not be established. But the lack of understanding of who fired is not reflected in the composition of the crime of the other three criminals. It is proved that Kharchenko directly interacted with the Buk crew. Dubinsky gave orders to Kharchenko. Girkin, as the court emphasized, is not a classic accomplice, because he has nothing to do with this particular Buk, and he learned about the rocket launch after the disaster. But he is an indirectly functional performer, as he led the fighting, acquired weapons, on his orders these weapons used to shoot down planes and helicopters. That is, he was aware that the "Buk", which will come into his possession, will kill people. In addition, Girkin understood the gravity of what he had done, since in the future he took the most active measures to evacuate this Buk to the territory of the Russian Federation.

And with Pulatov, it turned out that he interacted with Dubinsky and Kharchenko, met with them in Snezhnoye, was aware of what had happened, met with the perpetrators, and lied to the court. The court considers Pulatov's testimony implausible. He knew that the Buk would be used, as he was the coordinator of this operation, but had no functional involvement in the matter. At the time of the rocket launch, he was not at the launch site, he did not accompany and did not take out the installation. That is why the court found Pulatov not guilty on both counts - the destruction of the aircraft and the 298 murders of people who flew on board.

- Various, including conspiracy theories, versions of the death of MH17 were considered in the trial. There were suggestions that there were corpses, parrots on the plane, an explosive device was planted, and many other causes of the disaster were called.

- All these versions were considered and cut off. The court proved that the Boeing was shot down by a Russian missile from the Pervomaisky area. In addition, it was proved that all the audio materials (intercepts of the separatists' conversations) were genuine and had not been subjected to any manipulations. This knocks out one of the defense arguments. The judgment emphasizes that when the missile was launched, it was done with the clear intention of shooting down the aircraft, but it was assumed that it was on a military target (military aircraft). That is why the court recognized that there was an error - MH17 was shot down by mistake, but this does not detract from the guilt of the defendants. These people are not combatants, so they had no right to shoot down any military or any other aircraft at all. If they were combatants, then if they were ordered to shoot down a military aircraft, even if they hit a civilian side, they would fall under humanitarian law. under immunity. The degree of guilt would be different. This could be interpreted as negligent homicide.

- In the trial, the expertise of the Almaz Antey enterprise was presented. Was it taken into account by the court?

- The competence of the expert "Almaz Antey" Mikhail Malyshevsky is beyond doubt. But the court stressed that Almaz Antey cannot be trusted. Firstly, it is a state concern, and secondly, it is interested in the fault of Ukraine, since it fell under sanctions in 2014 as a weapons developer. It was said in court that all the calculations and experiments from the point of view of experts, and I confirm this, are scientific, but not true. I can prove it.

- What are the prospects for the enforcement of today's judgment? Will the appointed compensation be paid to the relatives of the victims? Will it be possible to seize the property of convicts ?

- From the point of view of the execution of the court decision, I think there are no prospects. At least for the foreseeable future. What matters is that the decision has been made. The important thing is that the court proved that MH17 was shot down by a Russian Buk. An abbreviated decision was read today. In a few days, the full text of the accusation will be published, it is necessary to look at the ascertaining part. This is very important, because it will give a full assessment of the situation in Ukraine, how it developed, which led to the tragedy.

- Will the verdict be appealed?

- There is an interesting intrigue with the appeal. On 3 November, the Dutch Minister of Justice wrote a letter to Parliament saying that they were already preparing for an appeal. But the lawyers of only one defendant, Oleg Pulatov, took part in the trial. But he was found not guilty and fully acquitted. That is, these lawyers no longer need to appeal the court's decision. The remaining three convicts did not take part in the trial, they did not have lawyers. It turns out that they either cannot appeal, or they must have representatives. Lawyers with powers of attorney of Girkin, Kharchenko and Dubinsky should appear, who will be able to appeal the verdict within 14 days.

- Are there still trials for the disaster over Donbass?

- At the beginning of 2022, it was said that by the end of the year it would become known whether there would be a next process. The investigation is not closed, it continues. The investigative group has not been disbanded, it finds out who exactly fired at the Boeing, who was in the crew flying the Buk. Now they are digging along the military vertical. If they have collected evidence that can be presented to the court, then the trial will take place.

On the basis of the decision made, individual countries - Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia - may bring charges against the Russian Federation. In addition, two more processes are currently underway: the first is in the ECtHR, where the responsibility of Russia and President Putin is being considered. They have until the end of this year to resolve the issue of jurisdiction. The second is the process in ICAO, where the Russian state also acts as a defendant. Now the stage of consideration of Russia's response to Ukraine's complaint is underway.

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