Defense seeks acquittal of Russian suspect in MH17 downing
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A lawyer for a Russian on trial in a Dutch court for his alleged role in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 argued Wednesday that prosecutors failed to prove he was involved.
Defendant Oleg Pulatov’s legal team has attempted to cast doubt on the prosecutors’ case, accusing them of tunnel vision and not adequately investigating other possible scenarios for the shooting down of MH17 on July 17, 2014, over eastern Ukraine.
Prosecutors say the Boeing 777 was hit by a Buk missile belonging to the Russian 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile Brigade that was driven to the launch location “by orders of and under guidance of the suspects.” All 298 passengers and crew were killed.
“Our client — this much is clear — is not the one who pressed the button, not the one who ordered the button to be pressed, not the one who authorized the button to be pressed and not the one who provided the weapon,” said defense lawyer Sabine ten Doesschate.
Pulatov is the only one of four suspects indicted in the downing of the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight being represented by lawyers at the trial that began two years ago. None of the men — three Russians and a Ukrainian — has been arrested, so they are being tried in their absence.
Prosecutors in December sought life sentences for all four suspects. Judges are expected to deliver verdicts by the end of the year.
The flight was shot down amid the conflict between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Last month Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine that has become bogged down into a war of attrition that forced more than 4 million refugees to flee the country and triggered a war crimes investigation at the International Criminal Court.
Earlier this month, the Dutch and Australian governments launched a legal case against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organization seeking to hold Moscow accountable for its alleged role in the downing of MH17.