News World MH17 investigation team names four murder suspects to face trial over doomed flight

MH17 investigation team names four murder suspects to face trial over doomed flight

Fred Westerbeke of the Joint Investigation Team discusses its findings about the 2014 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash. Photo: AFP/Getty
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Five years after the downing of Malaysia Airlines’ MH17, the Joint Investigation Team in the Netherlands has named four suspects it intends to charge with the murder of 298 passengers.

On Wednesday night, Australian time, JIT announced that international warrants have been issued for the arrest of three Russians and one Ukrainian suspected of shooting down the passenger jet from a field in Pervomaisky, eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch-led investigative team said the four suspects – Igor Girkin, Sergy Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko – are responsible for transporting the missile system used to down the flight.

Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the three Russian suspects have military and intelligence backgrounds.

ABC reports Mr Girkin, 48, is a former colonel in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Mr Dubinskiy, 56, was employed by the Russian Military Intelligence Service, and 52-year-old Mr Pulatov is a former soldier with Russia’s Spetznaz special forces, also known as the GRU.

People visit the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site near the Grabovo town in Donetsk, Ukraine on July 26, 2014. Photo: Getty

All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight were killed when the plan was hit by anti anti-aircraft missile as it flew over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

There were 38 Australians, one New Zealander, 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians aboard MH17, as well as 10 British passengers.

The other passengers were from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.

The Joint Investigation Team was formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate collaboratively.

Mr Westerbeke said the suspects would be placed on international wanted lists.

The murder trial is scheduled to begin in a Dutch court on March 9, but Russia indicated earlier on Wednesday it won’t provide legal assistance or hand over suspects.

If the suspects were convicted in absentia, they would face Interpol arrest warrants if they ever left Russian territory.

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said earlier on Wednesday the Russian military’s “top brass” allowed the transfer of the Buk missile launcher to and from the area from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigades base in the Russian city of Kursk.

-with AAP

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