Four suspects to be charged with murder of 298 passengers on flight MH17

Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Karchenko - who have been charged with murder over the downing of MH17.

Four people will be prosecuted as a result of an international investigation into the downing of a Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

On Wednesday it was revealed Igor Gurkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, all Russian nationals while Leonid Karchchenko, of the eastern Ukraine, will be charged with murder.

International arrest warrants have been issued for the suspects for the murder of all 298 passengers on board flight MH17 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Igor Gurkin, left, and Sergey Dubinskiy, who are both accused of murdering 298 passengers onboard MH17.
Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko who are both accused of murdering 298 passengers onboard MH17.

All of them are believed to be members of Russian-backed separatist groups.

Girkin was minister of defence in the Moscow-backed Donetsk people’s Republic (DNR).

He was the commander of the DNR when the plane was shot down on 17th July 2014.

Part of the fuselage of the downed MH17.

Dubinsky served as Girkin’s deputy in the DNR, and Pulatov was Dubinsky’s deputy and Kharchenko was under their command.

Dutch prosecutors will request Russia arrests and tries the nationals as it is against Russian law to extradite residents.

A trial is set to take place in 2020 and the suspects have been urged to attend.

Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine operating during the conflict in the country have been suspected of carrying out the attack, although Vladimir Putin's government has denied any involvement.

The accused did not push the button themselves but were responsible for bringing the anti-aircraft system to eastern Ukraine.

They could therefore be held criminally liable charged with murdering 298 people, investigators said.

Diagram showing the location of the MH17 crash site.
Wreckage of flight MH17 is seen at the Gilze-Rijen air base in the Netherlands (Xinhua/Sylvia Lederer via Getty Images)

A spokeswoman for Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that "the world will hear the names of the first four people suspected of involvement".

Kateryna Zelenko said Dutch prosecutors will file the case in a Netherlands court.

"The guilt of the four suspects must be proved first and foremost in court," the spokeswoman added.

Internet investigation team Bellingcat has already identified individuals who it claims were involved in the attack, who include a military intelligence official who was leading Russian-backed forces in the conflict in the Ukraine.

Members of a joint investigation team present the preliminary results of the criminal investigation into the downing of MH17 (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

International arrest warrants have now been been sent out, with the individuals placed on lists internationally, chief Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said.

All four had been involved in bringing the Buk missile system which shot down the plane from Russia to Ukraine.

He said the investigation had found and interrogated witnesses, analysed satellite images, and sifted through phone calls and other data. The area of investigation in eastern Ukraine was still inaccessible to the team, Westerbeke said, making the process difficult.

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More than 50 detectives had been involved and several significant new witnesses had come forward, Westerbeke said.

Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce perished in the tragedy, said some relatives had died without knowing the truth.

"I hope the trial starts within one or two years. We all get older... I hope that I will know the truth before I close my eyes."

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