Netherlands Public Prosecution Service does not appeal the judgement in criminal case MH17

The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has not appealed the judgement in the MH17 criminal case. The Public Prosecution Service is very satisfied that the judgment has clarified for the relatives what the actual circumstances were, surrounding the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The PPS also notes that the court largely followed the public prosecutors, both on the points of the evidence of the offences charged as on the punishment to be imposed.

On Thursday, November 17, 2022, the court of The Hague ruled in the MH17 criminal case. The court found that it has been proven legally that flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014 with a BUK missile from separatist-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine, and that Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko are criminally responsible for this. The court sentenced them to the highest penalty, life imprisonment, as was demanded by the Public Prosecution Service.

Clear considerations about evidence

The court found that the fourth suspect, Pulatov, was aware of the deployment of the Buk TELAR and accepted that deployment. However, unlike the position of the Public Prosecution Service, the court found that it has not been proven legally that he is criminally responsible for this. Therefore, the court acquitted him.

An appeal would be a great burden for the next of kin, because they would then remain in uncertainty about the outcome of the criminal case. The current judgments offer the next of kin certainty on a number of important subjects. In addition, the judgments contain clear considerations about the evidential value of witness and expert statements, visual material, intercepted conversations and about the nature of the armed conflict that was ongoing in Eastern Ukraine in July 2014 and the role of the Russian Federation in it. They can therefore also be used for parallel (civil) proceedings filed following the downing of MH17. The Public Prosecution Service has taken all these elements into account in the decision not to appeal.

Irrevocable verdicts

Because the Public Prosecution Service has waived an appeal, the verdict in Pulatov's case has become irrevocable. With regard to the offenders Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko, the court established at the hearing of 17 November 2022 that they are aware of that hearing. This means that they could lodge an appeal within fourteen days of the final judgment. Since they have not done so, and neither has the Public Prosecution Service, the Public Prosecution Service considers those judgments also irrevocable.

Execution of the sentences

The execution of the sentences imposed, including the compensation measure, of offenders Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko has now been transferred to the Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security. The Administration and Information Center for the Chain of Execution (AICE) is responsible within the ministry for this enforcement. The European Network of Fugitive Active Search Team (ENFAST) is involved in the international identification and tracing of the offenders. The Interpol Red Notice on the basis of which the convicted persons can be arrested will be maintained.

The Russian Federation does not extradite its citizens. Therefore, extradition of the offenders will not be requested. Continued efforts will be made to ensure that offenders Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko will serve their sentences. The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service considers that no offender should be allowed to escape punishment.