Two Russians and a Ukrainian man were sentenced to life in prison for the 2014 downing of MH17 over the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, killing all 298 people on board, The Hague District Court decided on Thursday.
Presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were responsible for the disaster.
Another Russian national, Oleg Polotov, was acquitted.
The court announced that Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko must pay a total of 60 million euros in compensation to the victims’ relatives.
The four-member group facing trial was not present in court. In all, they refused to participate in the trial, which lasted two and a half years.
Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko are unlikely to ever serve a sentence.
The ruling comes eight years after a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky on July 17, 2014, during clashes between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces.
A Dutch court established that the missile was supplied by Moscow and disintegrated in the air, scattering debris and bodies over farmland and sunflower fields in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
The MH17 crash, which killed 283 passengers and 15 crew, is the deadliest flight to date. Family members of many of the victims attended Thursday’s sentencing.
The aircraft was code-shared with Dutch company KLM. A total of 193 people are Dutch citizens. Australian and Dutch teams are in charge of the investigation.
The missile launcher is said to have come from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian Armed Forces based in the Russian city of Kursk, and was returned there after shooting down MH17.
Girkin, 51, is a former colonel in Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB.
At the time of the collapse, he was the defense minister and commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Far-right nationalist Girkin reportedly complicit in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The other three on trial are Girk’s subordinates. Prosecutors say Kharchenko was the commander of a pro-Russian separatist combat unit and took direct orders from Dubinsky.
Pulatov was one of the accused represented by defense lawyers at the trial and pleaded not guilty on his own behalf.