Relatives of the MH17 victims blinked back tears as the guilty verdicts were read in a Dutch court on Thursday.
Three men have been sentenced to life in prison for killing all 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 by a Russian-supplied missile. The fourth man was released.
Relatives express satisfaction
Piet Ploeg, chairman of the MH17 Air Disaster Foundation, said he thought it was a “well-balanced sentence”.
“I think it shows a lot about the development of the Russian state,” he said. “You will also see that it is balanced because one of the suspects was acquitted and the others received the maximum possible sentence. It was a fair trial. It was a balanced and well thought out verdict. We wanted to get Justice, we have justice.”
Relief after years of waiting
Relatives traveled from all over the world for the end of the two-and-a-half-year trial.
Some could not contain their relief after years of waiting for justice, including Ria van der Steen, whose father and stepmother died on the plane.
“I’m really, really, really happy. I was driving here this morning and I felt like I already knew,” Ria explained. “I’ve had this good feeling all week that they’re going to be condemned, so it doesn’t get any better than that at this point!”
Moscow calls the verdict scandalous
Moscow condemned the verdict as “scandalous”, saying it was politically motivated. Russia has denied any involvement in the accident from the beginning.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised it as “important”.
None of the suspects were in the high-security court after Russia refused to extradite them.
The Boeing was shot down seven years ago over eastern Ukraine, which was in the midst of a separatist conflict.