Three Found Guilty Of Downing MH17


The Dutch District Court of The Hague has found three people guilty of causing the 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and the murder of all 298 people on board. The aircraft, a Boeing 777 enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, went down in July 2014. The Dutch Safety Board determined that MH17 was downed by “the detonation of a 9N314M-type warhead launched from the eastern part of Ukraine using a Buk missile system,” a finding the court concluded the evidence presented proved beyond doubt. The aircraft was cruising at 33,000 feet when it was shot down. Airspace below 32,000 feet was closed at the time due to armed conflict between Ukrainian armed forces and pro-Russia separatist groups.

Russian Sergei Dubinsky was found guilty for his role in organizing and directing the transport of the Buk missile system to and from the launch site. Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko was sentenced for having ensured the missile system was guarded and protected at the launch site. Russian Igor Girkin, the military leader of pro-Russia rebel group the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), was convicted for his role in deciding to deploy the missile and in making the missile system “disappear as quickly as possible” following the crash. All three were sentenced in absentia to life in prison along with being assessed 16 million euros in damages. While their arrests have been ordered, it is thought highly unlikely that Russia will extradite the men.

The court stated that the missile crew likely believed they were shooting at a military aircraft rather than a civilian airliner. Russian Oleg Pulatov, who was responsible for maintaining a corridor to and from Russia, was acquitted. The court noted that it believed he knew about the missile but was neither in the vicinity when it was fired nor could have changed anything about the event. Russia called the trial, which lasted over two years, “one of the most scandalous in the history of legal proceedings.”

The English-language summary of the judgment can be found at—judgment.html.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Don’t know but shooting down an airliner cruising above the hard deck is hardly “scandalous” as the Russians said. These 3 probably won’t be incarcerated but one day they may come West and be captured. The emissions alone would have told the tale on it being civilian and not military.

  2. Terrible event, but stuff happens. Let’s remember that one of our USN ships shot down an Iranian airliner years ago. We didn’t turn over the crew to Iran. The Fog of War is a terrible thing, but it happens. I don’t see anything indicating that they were deliberately targeting a Malasian airliner. That is of little consequence to the dead passengers and crew, but it hardly justifies these convictions.

    50 years ago I dropped a “short round” in Vietnam killing some friendly Vietnamese troops. It was not judged to be my fault-the ground forward air controller made a judgement error. But hauling everyone into court for an error in combat is just polítical showmanship.

    I’d feel way differently if the shootdown had been shown to be a deliberate act against a known civil non-combatent. But I don’t see that in the reports. It looks like a tragic error due to the Fog of War. Having been part of one of those error 50 years ago, I guess that I may have a different perspective.



    • The group that launched the missile apparently deny any involvement with the Russian Federation and can’t be granted combatant immunity.

    • All of you, quit making excuses for an inexcusable deed. There is no excuse for shooting down a civilian airliner whether by accident or on purpose, and especially considering what is now happening in Ukraine by Russians. The incident did not happen in the “fog of war” anymore than all the raping, murdering and looting that is currently the modis operendi of the Russians and their minions. Disgusting comments.

      • Hi: Do you want to convict and turn over the crew of the US ship that shot down the Iranian airliner years ago? We were not at war with Iran, either. I am not trying to excuse the action and I am not siding with the Russians at all, but court action is futile and a mere political gesture. Other comments on not flying over a war zone are germane–there is blame aplenty, and it was a real tragedy. But convicting a general who put the missiles there is, again, futile. Best, Vince

  3. Flying at FL 330 when the airspace at FL 320 and below is a combat zone is a fool’s errand. The FAA had prevented U.S. carriers from any overflight of that area. The Dutch court should have also convicted Malaysia Airlines.

  4. Here is some life advise… don’t fly over a war zone unless you are involved in the war. Especially where surface to air missiles are in use, and you are in a civilian aircraft with no countermeasures.
    I could have been these three guys… idiots from a well known fake news outlet just had to fly around my position inside a known combat zone to see what was going on in a war zone. Yes, they almost got shot down.

    • Yeah, nothing worse than “fake news outlets” trying to get actual video and see what’s actually going on to create their “fake news”. Much better to sit behind a desk and invent it.

      Journalists have been dying in every war in a sincere attempt to get a view of reality rather than accept what the DoD and others just claim. This place was eye opening:

      The “idiots” flying around your combat zone would have been happy to die to bring truth to the world, just as I’m sure you would have been happy to die to bring freedom to the world.

      Have some respect.