Four suspects charged with shooting down passenger jet in Ukraine
[NY Post] Four people – three Russians and one Ukrainian – will face murder charges in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed in 2014, officials said Wednesday.
Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, will be prosecuted in the Netherlands, with a trial due to start in March 2020, according to the Dutch-led probe.
"Today we will send out international arrest warrants for the first suspects that we will prosecute. They will also be placed on national and international wanted lists," Dutch police chief Wilbert Paulissen told a press conference.
Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was blown apart after being hit by a missile over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists, according to investigators.
Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said they were the "four who will be held accountable for bringing the deadly weapon, the BUK Telar, into eastern Ukraine."
The four suspects are likely to be tried in absentia as Russia does not allow its nationals to be extradited for prosecution. Investigators said Kharchenko's whereabouts were currently unknown.
Last year, the same investigation team said the BUK anti-aircraft missile that struck the Boeing 777 had originated from the 53rd Russian military brigade based in Russia's southwestern city of Kursk.
Girkin, a former colonel of Russia's FSB spy service, was minister of defense in the Moscow-backed Donetsk People's Republic. He was the commander of the DNR when the flight was shot down, according to The Guardian.
Dubinksy, who is employed by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency, served as Girkin's deputy in the DNR, officials said.
Pulatov, a former soldier with the GRU's special forces spetsnaz unit, was Dubinsky's deputy, they said. And Kharchenko, who led a military combat unit in the city of Donetsk, was under their command.
Investigators said the soldiers "formed a chain linking DNR with the Russian Federation," enabling the separatists to get heavy equipment from Russia including the Buk launcher used to fire at the Malaysian plane with "terrible consequences."
The four suspects did not push the button themselves but were responsible for bringing the missile system to eastern Ukraine, therefore they can be held criminally liable, investigators said.
Posted by: Frank G 2019-06-19