MH17 suspect calls ‘so-called ‘court ‘not legit’

Igor Girkin, one of the four suspects in the MH17 case, says not to acknowledge the punishment against him and his โ€œcomradesโ€. The Prosecution wants a life sentence for the four men who together would be responsible for taking down the plane and killing all 298 occupants.

Girkin is not surprised by the penalty, he says to Nieuwsuur by phone. โ€œI expected no different from this so-called court in the Netherlands.โ€


He and two other suspects will not be defended by lawyers in the process. โ€œI‘m not following the course of this process at all,โ€ says Girkin. โ€œI don’t recognize the legitimacy of this court for myself or my comrades.โ€

Digna van Boetzelaer, deputy chief officer of justice, calls Girkins statements โ€œalmost contempt in courtโ€. โ€œThe way in which he is in this adds extra suffering for the bereaved.โ€

Key positions

At the time of the MH17 disaster, the four suspects, three Russians and a Ukrainian, held key positions within the rebel groups fighting in eastern Ukraine, where the plane crashed. According to the OM, they arranged the Buk missile installation that shot down flight MH17.

The men were therefore responsible for the efforts of the Buk, the OM believes, even though they were not the ones who pressed the button. โ€œThey are functional perpetrators,โ€ explains Van Boetzelaer. โ€œEven if you haven‘t done it yourself, you can be held responsible as a perpetrator. They were fighting, they needed that Buk at that moment because they wanted to shoot planes that flew higher out of the sky.โ€

The lawyers of the only suspect who is represented, Oleg Poelatov, are not to mention the punishment. Some of the evidence and a number of burdensome testimony received too little attention from the Public Service, they say.

The lawyers also believe that the OM calls cases that are โ€œvery far from realityโ€. For example, according to the lawyers, there is no question of โ€œa closely cooperating perpetratorgroup that acted out of their own interest and focused on violent crimes against aircraftโ€, as the prosecution describes the suspects. Lawyer Boudewijn van Eijck: โ€œThe Public Prosecutor tends to focus very much on what falls well in public opinion.โ€

But according to the OM, it is certain that the men had been working with each other for a long time and were already busy taking down planes before. Van Boetzelaer: โ€œWe all mentioned those planes in the requisitory.โ€

Earlier this year, Nieuwsuur received thousands of recorded phone calls that one of the suspects conducted before, during and after the MH17 flight disaster:

The fact that it was war in eastern Ukraine during the disaster is not a punitive circumstance, says Van Boetzelaer. โ€œIt was a war that they should not have fought there. It wasn’t regular military. There was no state under whose responsibility they fought and they did not adhere to the law of war. They must be tried as ordinary citizens and they must not commit violence.โ€

โ€œProcess of importance for truth findingโ€

Poelatov‘s defense will speak in the lawsuit in March. There will be a ruling before the end of next year. But Russia denies any responsibility and is unlikely to extradite the suspects.

โ€œNever say never,โ€ says Van Boetzelaer. โ€œAnd this process is also important for the truth finding that is important for the many bereaved to be able to take steps further again. As a society, we can’t just let such violence pass.โ€