Russian MH17 suspect asks for acquittal
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Russian MH17 suspect asks for acquittal

A Russian suspect in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 has filed a video statement to appeal to a Dutch court to be declared innocent.

Russian MH17 suspect asks for acquittal

The appeal came as judges postponed the long-running trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian separatist rebel and began months of deliberations.

“I expect a fair and legally substantiated verdict,” Oleg Pulatov told the jury. “Please, acquit me.”

He spoke in a recorded video message because he and the three other suspects did not surrender to the court to face trial.

Prosecutors say Pulatov was deputy chief of intelligence for the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine when the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a Buk missile on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew. . , including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

As 67 days of court hearings, spanning more than two years, have ended, chairman Hendrik Steenhuis said the earliest date for the court to rule on the complex case is November 17.

The trial began on March 9, 2020, as the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, which formed the background to the downing of the passenger plane, was still simmering. The hearing of evidence and legal arguments ended Friday as Ukraine was engulfed in a devastating war to fend off the Russian invasion.

The marathon lawsuit began by reading the names of all 298 people who died when the passenger plane was blown out of the sky. Judges also heard emotional victim statements from dozens of relatives of the dead.

On the last scheduled day of pleadings for sentences, Pulatov’s Dutch lawyers reiterated their claims that their client has not had a fair trial and is innocent.

According to prosecutors, the trial contained evidence that the three Russians — Pulatov, Igor Girkin, and Sergey Dubinsky — were involved in downing a Buk missile launcher from a Russian military base, along with Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. Drove in and then returned to the grounds. Russia denies any involvement in the downing of the plane.

“What is important to me is that the truth is revealed. It is important that my country is not blamed for this tragedy,” Pulatov said in his video message.

Pulatov’s lawyers had their final say in the trial this week, accusing prosecutors of tunnel vision by focusing solely on their theory that separatist rebels shot down MH17, failed to give the Russians a fair trial, and was unable to prove their case against him.

If convicted of, among other things, involvement in the murder of all 298 passengers and crew, Pulatov faces a maximum jail term of life. However, it is highly unlikely that he will ever serve a prison term because Russia will not extradite him.

Pulatov was the only one of the suspects to defend himself at the trial. He said his lawyers had shown “that the evidence presented by the prosecution is inconclusive and in some respects unreliable, based on conjecture and generally insufficient to substantiate a judgment.”