Aviation

MH17 investigators to lay murder charges

Four men will be charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which killed 298 people, including 38 Australians, in 2014.

The Joint Investigations Team (JIT) has announced three Russians, Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Poelatov and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko will be prosecuted by Dutch authorities next year, the ABC reported.

The Boeing 777 was flying over eastern Ukrainian territory held by pro-Russia separatists when it was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile in July 2014.

JIT coordinator and Dutch chief prosecutor said the team has proof that the Russian Federation was involved in the tragic crime. Three of the men named had worked for the Russian military and were wiretapped on the phone requesting “anti-aircraft defence” from a Russian government figure, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has denied Russian servicemen were involved.

“Once again, absolutely groundless accusations are being made against the Russian side, aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation in the eyes of the international community,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Dutch authorities said they will not make requests for the four men to be extradited as both the Russian and Ukranian constitutions do not allow their nationals to be extradited. The men will instead be tried in absentia at the Hague in March of 2020.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier told the ABC Australia “won’t stop” until those responsible are brought to justice.

“So just because we know that is a challenge for us doesn’t mean we’re not going to pursue justice on behalf of those victims, on behalf of those people close to them and their family members.

“We’ll do all we can to look and use every avenue that’s available to us, every opportunity that might become available to us to try and put those people before justice.”

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