This international investigation is a good example of how serious international crimes can be investigated even if the perpetrators are protected by a state that opposes justice.
“Although Russia will not extradite the defendants and has consistently failed to cooperate with the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), the trial is a very important step in providing justice to the victims. In cases where states refuse to extradite criminals, trials in absentia are the only way to deal with them in court”, states Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal head of policies at NHC.
The Netherlands and the other countries of the JIT have shown that they are not controlled by Russia. Non-governmental organizations such as British Bellingcat have used open sources to investigate the tragedy and have helped documenting the case. The JIT investigation has been very comprehensive and pioneering in the use of technology and sources.
President Putin must take responsibility
“The case clearly shows how the Russian authorities have been responsible for the war in Ukraine from the start of the conflict in 2014. The political responsibility for the tragedy rests with President Vladimir Putin and his administration”, Ekeløve-Slydal explains.
One of the defendants, Igor Girkin, has also allegedly been involved in crimes in Chechnya. Girkin, who may be a serial offender, are an example of the impunity that characterizes wars of the former Soviet republics leads to new armed conflicts.
In cases where states refuse to extradite criminals, trials in absentia are the only way to deal with them in court
Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal
This is why the trial in the Netherlands is important. At the same time, the shooting of the MH17, where 298 people were killed, is only part of the assault in the six-year-old armed conflict in Ukraine. In order to bring justice to the many victims, and to raise the threshold for new abuses, the international community must assist Ukraine.
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague must open investigation in Ukraine. European countries like Norway must join international efforts to investigate the crimes in Ukraine. It is our best assurance against new wars in Europe”, Ekeløve-Slydal concludes.