3 sentenced to life for downing Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Dutch judges on Thursday sentenced three suspects in absentia to life imprisonment for their involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, which led to the loss of 298 people.
A fourth suspect, a Russian citizen also in absentia, was acquitted.
The three were also ordered to pay more than 16 million euros (US$16.5 million) in damages to the relatives of the victims.
The sentences were announced following a two-hour hearing in a high-security court house near Amsterdam in the presence of the victims' relatives.
"The court considers it proven that flight MH17 was hit by a Buk missile fired from an agricultural field near (the village of) Pervomaiskyi in Ukraine. This was in separatist-controlled territory," a summary of the ruling read.
The ruling was in line with the findings of a previous scrutiny conducted by a joint investigation team (JIT) between the Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, Australia and Malaysia.
Russia rejected the findings, calling the JIT report "biased and politically motivated."
According to the ruling, the three suspects played an essential role in the downing of flight MH17 by respectively organizing, guiding and carrying out the fieldwork.
An appeal can be lodged against the court's decision within two weeks, according to the summary.
Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, was blown out of the sky on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board died, among them 196 Dutch citizens.
Based on the JIT investigation, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) decided to prosecute the suspects on June 19, 2019. The Court of The Hague started the trial on March 9, 2020.