Dutch Court Hands Down Decision on Downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Investigators study wreckage at the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site
Ministerie van Defensie, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The District Court of The Hague has scheduled the judgment in the MH17 criminal case at Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) at Badhoevedorp (The Netherlands) for Thursday, 17 November 2022 at 13.30 p.m.

On 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. the scheduled flight had been en-route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The individuals who are thought to be responsible for the crash are being prosecuted.


The Hague District Court has found three of the defendants – two Russians and a Ukrainian – guilty of the murder of the 298 persons on board Flight MH17. A fourth defendant has been acquitted due to lack of evidence. See current updates at the end of this article.

Malaysian Airlines MH17

Image: MH17 flightpath Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine have been working together to conduct the international criminal investigation of the cause of the crash of flight MH17 and those thought to be responsible.

On the basis of the criminal investigation the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) took the decision on 19 June 2019 to prosecute the suspects.

Prosecutors in the case have alleged that one Ukrainian and three Russian defendants were instrumental in helping to supply a Buk missile system that Russian-backed separatists then used to fire at the Malaysia Airlines aircraft on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board the flight were killed.

The Dutch prosecutors subsequently demanded life sentences for the four accused – Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

ABOVE: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6-ER (9M-MRD) at the international terminal at Perth Airport. The aircraft crashed over Ukraine on 17 July 2014. PHOTO CREDIT: Darren Koch via Wikimedia Commons

Court Livestream

The Court is set to hand down their decision on the case today at 1.30pm local time.

All court proceedings of the MH17 trial will be live streamed, accessible via the links below.

Stream with original sound

English stream with live interpreters

Update 14:15 UTC

As the court session progresses, the Hague Court has ruled that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Donbas region in July 2014 by a Russian missile which had been fired from a Buk surface-to-air missile system (SAM). The missile had come from the direction of the village of Pervomayskyi, which was in a Russian controlled region overseen by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The Court has found that at least one of the accused, Igor Girkin, had been in contact former Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.

The Court verdict effectively finds Russia guilty of the downing of Flight MH17, as direct orders were given to the separatists by Moscow.

The four defendants in the case are not present and are being held to trial ‘in absentia.’ Only one of the four defendants – the Russian Oleg Pulatov – is being represented by lawyers who are participating in the Court proceedings,

Update 14:50 UTC

The Hague District Court has found three of the defendants – two Russians and a Ukrainian – guilty of the murder of the 298 persons on board Flight MH17. A fourth defendant has been acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The three accused who have been found guilty are:

  • Igor Girkin was the military leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Girkin was convicted of deploying the missile and seeking Russian assistance.
  • Sergei Dubinsky was found responsible for ordering and overseeing the transportation of the Buk missile launcher.
  • Leonid Kharchenko was also found to have been involved in overseeing and guarding the Buk launcher.
  • Oleg Pulatov, who was the only one of the four to have legal representation in the trial, was acquitted. The Court found that whilst he knew of the missile, he was not a perpetrator.

The courtroom was packed with hundreds of the family members and friends of victims, many of whom had travelled a long way to hear the verdict handed down.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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