A former spy’s admission that Russia has moral responsibility for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is too late, family of Australian victims say.
A former spy’s admission that Russia has moral responsibility for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is too late, family of Australian victims say.

MH17: Aussies slam Russian spy’s shock admission

A former spy's admission that Russia had "moral responsibility" for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was too little, too late, family members of Australian victims say.

Igor Girkin, who is facing charges over the attack, has said he accepted that Russian involvement was to blame for a plane being shot out of the sky over Ukraine in 2014.

All 298 people on-board, including 38 Australians, were killed, when a Russian-made Buk missile struck the flight in an area above territory that was in the control of Kremlin-backed rebels.

 

Jane Malcolm, whose mother Carol and stepfather Michael Clancy were killed in the disaster, said it was not enough.

Russia was a "corrupt regime" filled with "people willing to work under those conditions", she said.

"They're just terrible human beings all around, I try not to think about it because they are just horrible people and they just put no value on human life," she said.

"They won't take responsibility for their actions. Imagine if you found out your stuff had killed 298 people and you just shrug your shoulders."

Igor Girkin, also know as Igor Strelkov, was the former military chief for Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Picture: AP
Igor Girkin, also know as Igor Strelkov, was the former military chief for Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Picture: AP

Ms Malcolm said Russia was "incompetent" and she did not understand why Girkin was making these statements six years after the attack.

Girkin was among four people put on trial in the Netherlands over the murders, with a major case beginning in March.

None of the suspects attended the hearings and they had not recognised the jurisdiction of the court.

However, Girkin, who was in charge of the rebels in the area at the time, has now accepted some responsibility.

"In as much as I was the commander of the rebels and a participant in the conflict, I feel a moral responsibility for these deaths," Mr Girkin, 49, told The Times newspaper.

But he said that forces under his command "did not bring down the plane".

When pushed as to whether he was admitting Russia was to blame, Girkin replied: "People can interpret this as they like."

Russians Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were also put on trial, accused of supplying the weapon to rebels.

Girkin was a former Colonel with Russia's FSB state security service, and Pulatov was a former lieutenant colonel in the Russian armed forces accused of transporting the missile.

Dubinsky was a former Russian military intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, while Kharchenko, a Ukrainian, was part of the Donetsk People's Republic's forces.

Families of Australian victims had demanded honesty and answers from the hearings at the Schiphol Justice Complex, near Amsterdam's airport when the case started.

The first of 25 weeks of hearings heard that rebels were "delighted" when they fired the missile, believing they had hit a military aircraft.

Prosecutors were trying to build a case that senior people in the Russian military and government knew of the operation.

The Australian Federal Police were a key member of the Joint Investigation Team that probed the attack, which happened on July 17, 2014.

The court allowed 13 witnesses in the case to keep their identities suppressed because of fear of Russian reprisals.

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

Originally published as MH17: Aussies slam Russian spy's shock admission



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