MH17 court ruling set for 17 Nov. as Russia reportedly detains MH17 defendant
Russia briefly detained Igor Girkin, one of the four suspects being tried for the downing of flight MH17. The Russian former spy chief was stopped en route to the frontline after expressing his frustration with the slow progress of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Telegraph reports. The court announced on Monday that it would rule on the MH17 case on November 17.
Girkin is one of four men currently on trial for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014. The other suspects are Sergei Dubinsky, Leonid Chartshenko, and Oleg Pulatov. Only Pulatov appointed lawyers to represent him. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded life in prison against the four men for the murder of 298 people on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, 196 of whom were Dutch. The court announced on Monday that it would rule on this case on November 17.
According to The Telegraph, Girkin, also called Igor Streklov, was traveling with a fake passport and had shaved off his “trademark mustache” in an apparent attempt to disguise himself. He decided to enlist after growing frustrated with the slow progress of the war in Ukraine, his Russian nationalist supporter Alexander Zhuchkovsky said to the newspaper.
Russian forces briefly detained Girkin in Crimea as he was heading to the frontline near Kherson in southern Ukraine, Zhuchkovsky said. “Strelkov is a man with vast military experience,” he said. “It is a great political crime that such a person cannot get to the front.”
Girkin supports the invasion of Ukraine but has criticized the Kremlin for not committing itself fully, according to the newspaper. On Telegram, he denied trying to join the fight at the front. “Sooner or later I will certainly be at the front (this war, as I warned in advance, will be long and difficult). But not right now,” he said to his 426,000 followers on the platform.
A spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service, which recently presented closing arguments in the MH17 trial, noted that their office has no way of verifying whether or not Girkin was really stopped at the border. “He’s on the international and Dutch most wanted lists. The Netherlands has since then asked for him to be turned over,” she told NL Times.
Russia has yet to surrender any MH17 suspects for the trial in the Netherlands.