Judgment criminal trial MH17
On Thursday, 17 November 2022, in front of a large number of relatives and other attendees, the District Court of The Hague gave its verdict in the MH17 criminal case after an extensive and intensive criminal trial. All sessions could be followed live and watched back via: www.courtmh17.com. The summary and verdicts can be accessed via the following links:
The District Court concluded that flight MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile launched from an agricultural field near Pervomaisky. The court convicted 3 suspects, namely Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko for causing the crash of flight MH17 and for functionally committing/conspiring murder of 298 people. Dubinskiy and Kharchenko played key roles in transporting the BUK missile and guarding and protecting the final firing site. Girkin, as supreme military leader, was (ultimately) responsible for the deployment of military assets.
Life sentences were imposed on Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko for these offences.
The court found insufficient evidence to convict defendant Pulatov of his involvement. The court noted that Pulatov did commit the conduct, as argued by the prosecution, but found this insufficient to hold Pulatov legally responsible for the flight MH17 disaster. Pulatov was therefore acquitted of the charges.
The court also ruled that the submitted claims for damages by the next of kin were awarded in the amounts claimed by the Legal Aid Team (of which Beer lawyers is part). The compensation measure was also imposed, which means that the State guarantees payment.
The court also considered the position of siblings who did not live with the victim. They could not claim compensation. However, the court did support the appeal by the Legal Aid Team and some relatives to the Dutch legislator to explicitly include the position of siblings who were no longer living with the victim in the anticipated evaluation of the (Dutch) Act on Affection Damage. The court considered:
"From victim statements, it has emerged penetratingly that after the disaster, the lives of siblings changed dramatically. A change caused not only by the grief for the loss of sibling, but also because of the new or more intense role they took on, obviously with love but also by necessity, after the disaster in caring for sibling's children or in caring for their own parents. This new or more intense role also confronts them even more intensely with the grief of these children and parents. The court therefore supports the relatives' call for the position of siblings who no longer live with the victim to be explicitly included in the anticipated evaluation of the Act on Affection Damage."
It will have to wait and see in the coming period whether appeals will be filed.