Author`s name Lyuba Lulko

MH17 fake trial is not worth a damn

The anti-Russian performance in the Flight MH17 case continues to evolve. The person who allegedly launched the Buk missile was never found, and the audio recordings of his "accomplices" appear to be merely circumstantial evidence.

On December 20, Dutch prosecutors started the process to close their arguments in the case of the MH17 crash.

The suspects did not push the button

Representatives for the Dutch prosecutor's office said that the MH17 indictment would be announced on December 22, Wednesday, with a verdict to follow some time in mid-2022.

According to Nos, a Dutch publication, prosecutors reconstructed the events of July 2014 on the basis of a large number of photos, videos and witnesses' testimonies. There are also audio recordings of telephone conversations, in which the suspects spoke of a rocket launcher and the destruction of a civilian aircraft.

According to the prosecutors, four suspects (Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, Leonid Kharchenko) did not push the button that launched the rocket. However, they are still responsible for activating the device. The four men are accused of provoking other suspects to launch the rocket.

MH17 shot down by mistake

International criminal law expert Marieke de Hoon of the University of Amsterdam told the Nos publication that there would be an indictment for each of the suspects specifying what exactly every individual did to shoot down MH17. Prosecutors will need to link evidence to the charges brought against the MH17 crash and the murder of all 298 passengers.

In order to prove these crimes, there must be intent. Audios of the intercepted conversations show that the attack on MH17 was a mistake — they were aiming at a military aircraft. One of the suspects reported after the Malaysian Airlines plane crash that it was a Ukrainian fighter jet that was shot down, but then it turned out that it was a passenger plane. The court found the audio recordings to be authentic.

However, a mistake shall not exclude malicious intent. By firing the rocket, the prosecutors said, the suspects, with a significant likelihood, accepted the idea of shooting down a passenger plane. Therefore, they accepted the idea of mass murder, Marieke De Hoon said.

The prosecutors will claim that they had had an opportunity to abandon the plan, but they still continued to implement it anyway, the lawyer said.

It just so happens that the person who pushed the button to fire the Buk rocket was never found. The Buk system was never found either. What kind of trial can it be without the main suspect — the man who fired the shot? This is one of the basic conditions of any trial that even first-year law students are familiar with.

Audio recordings appear to be nothing but circumstantial evidence. In addition, the authenticity of such recordings is difficult to establish, and Pulatov's voice has not been identified. Thus, this trial can only deliver the verdict on whether the prosecutors have succeeded in providing sufficient evidence.

None of the defendants has ever appeared at the hearings in the case, which began in March 2020. It was only Pulatov who was assisted at the trial by two Dutch lawyers. The criminal case against the other three is being heard in absentia.

Russia denies any involvement in the MH17 disaster. Moscow presented its alternative scenarios, but the court has ignored them. The court has rejected several motions filed by Pulatov's defense. The defense demanded that prosecutors' documents about the anonymous witness (numbered as S45) be attached to the case file, but this was not done.

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