Netherlands protests 'despicable' Russian response to MH17 verdict

A view of the courtroom as the Dutch court announces its ruling in the MH17 trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian in the Schiphol Judicial Complex, Badhoevedorp, Netherlands, November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Friday it had summoned the Russian ambassador in the Netherlands over what it called Moscow's "utterly despicable" response to the verdict in the trial over the 2014 downing of Flight MH17.

Russia said on Thursday the Dutch court's decision to convict two former Russian intelligence agents and a Ukrainian separatist leader for shooting down the Malaysian airliner "neglected impartiality". All 298 people aboard were killed.

Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said these remarks by Russia, which invaded Ukraine nine months ago, were "utterly despicable" and totally removed from reality.

"Russia itself violates international laws in every way. We can't let this pass ... and have to show that we do respect the rule of law and do have an independent judiciary," Hoekstra told Dutch newspaper AD.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, as fighting raged between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces, the precursor of this year's conflict.

In its ruling, the court said there was no doubt that the plane had been downed by a Russian missile system, and that Russia had "overall control" over the separatist forces in the region from mid-May 2014.

Reporting by Bart Meijer and Stephanie van den Berg Editing by Mark Potter and Mark Heinrich

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