Verdict in downed M17 Malaysia Airlines passenger flight case

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A Dutch court on Thursday convicted three men of murder for their role in shooting down the M17 Malaysia Airlines passenger flight with a Russian surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people aboard the aircraft. Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said evidence presented by prosecutors in the trial ,which lasted more than two years , proved that the Boeing 777 was brought down by a Buk missile fired by pro-Moscow Ukrainian fighters on July 17, 2014.

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The downing of the jet happened in the early phase of the conflict between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces. Russians Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko, who all remain at large, were convicted for their role in bringing the Buk missile system from a Russian military base into Ukraine. They were sentenced to life in prison, in absence. The fourth defendant, Oleg Pulatov, who served in a special unit of the GRU, was acquitted for lack of evidence. The convicted men have two weeks to file an appeal. Moscow has long denied responsibility for the destruction of the jetliner and refused to extradite the defendants or cooperate with investigators. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the court of bowing to pressure from Dutch politicians, prosecutors and the news media. The court determined that Moscow financed and armed the separatist forces in Donetsk.