An international group of investigators has announced that it is charging four men — three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian — with causing the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine in 2014.
What's the background?
On July 17, 2014, flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam, heading for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A few hours later, it crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, 80 of whom were children.
A year after the plane was shot down, Dutch investigators concluded that it had been hit by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile. The crash happened in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, which is largely controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
What happened now?
On Wednesday, investigators announced that they had enough evidence to bring murder charges against four suspects.
One of the Russians charged, Igor Girkin, is a former colonel with Russia's FSB, and was also commander of the pro-Russian movement in that region of Ukraine. The other two Russians, Sergey Dubinskey and Oleg Pulatov, worked with Russia's military intelligence agency GRU.
The Ukrainian, Leonid Kharchenko, is accused of leading a Russian-backed military combat unit in the area where the plane crashed.
The four are accused of bringing the Buk surface-to-air missile system from Russia into Ukraine, although they are not specifically charged with firing the missiles at the plane itself.
Arrest warrants have been issued for these four people, and the trial is scheduled for March 2020 in the Netherlands.
A group of more than four dozen detectives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and the Ukraine were involved in this investigation. All these nations had citizens who died in the crash.
Russia has officially, and repeatedly, denied any involvement in the crash, and has claimed that the crash investigators are "biased and politically motivated.
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