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MH17 Crash: Malaysia PM Mahathir Denounces Murder Charges

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A day after the MH17 plane crash inquiry team announced murder charges against four men, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has condemned the decision as “ridiculous”.

The three Russians and a Ukrainian are accused of bringing a missile into eastern Ukraine which shot the Malaysian Airlines plane down.

All 298 people on board were killed.

“From the very beginning it became a political issue on how to accuse Russia of wrongdoing,” Mr Mahathir said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also rejected the findings on Thursday, saying “we believe there is no proof”.

However, Malaysia is itself part of the Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT), which has been working on the criminal inquiry for years. A foreign ministry statement said it remained committed to the inquiry process.

Arriving at the EU summit in Brussels, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte criticised the Malaysian leader’s remarks and said the foreign ministry in The Hague was in touch with its counterparts in Kuala Lumpur.

“I can imagine the relatives will be naturally very disappointed by it and it also causes confusion,” he told reporters.

The three Russians charged were all closely connected to Russian intelligence services, prosecutors said, and all four were involved in the conflict with the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine at the time the plane was shot down on 17 July 2014.

A trial will open in the Netherlands on 9 March 2020, even if the suspects are not present.

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