Russia says it rejects 'scandalous' Dutch MH 17 verdict

Flowers and mementos left by local residents at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are pictured near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Russia on Thursday rejected what it called the "scandalous" decision by a Dutch court to convict two of its citizens for downing a Malaysian airliner and said the proceedings had not been impartial.

Judges convicted three men of murder for their role in the 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew, and sentenced them to life in prison in absentia.

The three were former Russian intelligence agents Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian separatist leader.

The Dutch court also said Russia had "overall control" of separatist forces in eastern Ukraine at the time the plane was shot down.

Russia's foreign ministry said the court had been under unprecedented pressure from Dutch politicians, prosecutors and the media to impose a politically motivated outcome.

"The trial in the Netherlands has every chance of becoming one of the most scandalous in the history of legal proceedings," it said in a statement. Moscow has repeatedly denied responsibility for the downing of the jet.

Separately, a top Russian politician told Tass news agency that Moscow would not be extraditing Girkin and Dubinskiy.

Andrei Klishas, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament, told Tass that the court's decision would not have any legal consequences.

The Russian foreign ministry said prosecutors had ignored all evidence it said indicated that the missile could have been launched by Ukrainian troops from territory controlled by Kyiv.

"We deeply regret that the District Court in The Hague disregarded the principles of impartial justice in favour of the current political situation," it said.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Toby Chopra, David Ljunggren and Jonathan Oatis

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