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Flight MH17: Four charged with murder over downing of Malaysia Airlines jet | World News

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Four men have been charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298 passengers and crew.

Almost five years after the Boeing 777 jet was shot down above eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, an international team of investigators announced that three Russians and a Ukrainian were to be “held accountable” for transporting the missile system used to its launch site.

The three Russians were named as former Igor Girkin, 48, Sergey Dubinskiy, 56, and Oleg Pulatov, 52, while the other man was identified as 47-year-old Leonid Kharchenko.

Part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk
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Part of the Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove, some 80km east of Donetsk

Girkin is a former colonel of the FSB, the Russian security service, Dubinskiy was once employed by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, and Pulatov is an ex-soldier of the Spetznaz, the GRU special forces. Kharchenko is the only suspect with no military background.

The international team of detectives and prosecutors investigating the crash said the men had “co-operated closely” to obtain the weaponry – a 9M38 variant of the Buk missile system used by Russia – and position it in advance of it striking the passenger plane, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking at a news conference at The Hague, Dutch police chief Wilbert Paulissen said their murder trial would begin at the same court on 9 March 2020 – although the men are unlikely to appear as their countries do not recognise extradition requests and are unlikely to co-operate with the investigation.

Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the failure by Russia to aid the investigation was a “slap in the face” to the families of those who died.

“We have established that there has been involvement of the Russian Federation because they made available the missile that was used to shoot down MH17,” he said.

“The Russian federation has not disclosed anything that happened and that is a slap in the face for all the relatives of the victims, and I call out to them to start co-operating.”

MH17
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The plane was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow did not trust the investigation, but claimed that there had been a willingness to help.

He told reporters ahead of the news conference: “Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite an interest right from the start and trying to join in.”

A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, Ukraine
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Potential suspects include rebel forces in the area

Relatives of the victims were briefed on the updates provided in the news conference beforehand.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers were among those killed, hailed the charges for the four suspects as a “good start”.

She said: “This is what we hoped for. This is a start of it. It is a good start.”

Mr Paulissen said more suspects could be identified at a later date, including those “higher up the chain of command”, but added that there is not yet sufficient evidence to do so.

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Iran sentences 'CIA spies' to death after 'breaking ring'

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Iran says it has broken up a CIA spying ring and sentenced some of the 17 suspects to death.

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Thirty injured as 1,000 firefighters battle wildfires in Portugal | World News

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More than 1,000 firefighters are tackling wildfires spreading in east Portugal, which have injured 30 people.

Homeowners tried to protect their properties from the huge fires with buckets of water and hosepipes as strong winds fanned the winds on Sunday.

Portugal’s Civil Protection Authority said more than 1,150 firefighters were working to contain the blazes, which broke out on Saturday across three fronts in the district of Castelo Branco, 124 miles (200km) north east of the capital Lisbon.

A firefighter passes while a wildfire burns the forest at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There are 1,000 firefighters working to contain the blazes
Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal
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Villagers help to put out a forest fire at the small village of Colos, Portugal

Authorities said one injured civilian was taken to hospital and is in a serious condition after suffering first and second-degree burns.

Villages and fluvial beaches were evacuated as a precaution and 30 people are known to be injured.

Firefighters were being supported by 10 firefighting aircraft as well as hundreds of vehicles.

Some houses were affected by the fires but Portugal’s Civil Protection did not provide a specific number.

A villager holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Villagers have tried to keep the flames away from their homes
A firefighters tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao

“The fire is out of control, without resources on the ground, and the population at risk,” Vasco Estrela, the mayor of Macao, told Portuguese radio station TSF. “We never thought we would live through this again.”

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Portuguese president, said he would be in contact with the mayors in the affected areas.

A statement on the presidential website said: “Aware of adverse weather conditions, the President of the Republic conveys all solidarity to the men and women who fight them, as well as to the most directly affected populations, accompanied by all the Portuguese.”

Strong winds have made it more difficult for firefighters to tackle the blaze, but authorities said they hoped to have them under control soon.

One wildfire made its way to Macao, an area in the district of Santarum, in western Portugal where temperatures reached 34C (93.2F) on Sunday.

A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
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A car burns near at the small village of Vila de Rei, Portugal
Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei
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Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near the village of Vila de Rei

Images broadcast by Portuguese TV channel TVI showed villagers in Macao trying to protect their houses and animals as smoke filled the air, forcing many to wear masks.

“(It will be) an afternoon of intense work,” Belo Costa, a Civil Protection official, told reporters.

Police have opened an investigation on the fires, with local authorities considering it unusual that all blazes had started in a narrow time frame between 2.30pm and 3.30pm local time on Saturday in the same area.

In a statement, police said that a 55-year-old man was detained on suspicion of starting a blaze in the Portuguese district of Castelo Branco.

A firefighter monitors the progression of a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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So far eight firefighters have been injured
A villager tries to put out the fire as it gets close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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A villagers throws water on the fire as flames creep toward his home

One resident said: “The wildfire came with force. We [the residents] had to fight the flames.”

He said there were not enough firefighters, a worry echoed by Ricardo Aires, the mayor of Vila de Rei which has been affected.

The army is sending 20 soldiers and four bulldozers to help with the operation.

A villages holds a hose as a wildfire comes close to his house at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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There have been no wildfire deaths since 2017
A firefighter tackles a wildfire at Amendoa in Macao, central Portugal on July 21, 2019. - More than a thousand firefighters battled to control wildfires in central Portugal that have forced village evacuations, in a region where dozens were killed in huge blazes in 2017. The firefighters were deployed to tackle three fires in the mountainous and heavily forested Castelo Branco region, 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, according to the website of the Civil Protection. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The fires broke out on Saturday night

This is the first major wildfire in Portugal this year.

In 2017, 106 people were killed in some of the country’s deadliest fires on record.

The Portuguese government backed stronger firefighting prevention methods after the heavy death toll of that year and there were no wildfire deaths in 2018.

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