Mixed emotions after MH17 murder verdict

Mixed emotions after MH17 murder verdict

Updated: 17 days, 14 hours, 59 minutes, 2 seconds ago

Three men - two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist - were sentenced to life in prison on Thursday over the 2014 attack, which killed all 298 people on board the flight over Ukraine.

The trio was convicted in absentia while a third Russian defendant was acquitted.

Hundreds of family members of the plane's passengers and crew, including family and friends of the 38 Australians who died, travelled to the court to hear the verdict.

Meryn O'Brien, whose son Jack was killed when the flight was downed, said the verdict didn't change anything.

"It's a measure of justice but it would be complete justice if our family members were restored to us," he told ABC TV.

Matthew Horder, whose parents died in the attack, noted the importance of the court determining what happened.

"To have a court at a high level confirm that ... those people were deliberately murdered is very important for the families who are surviving their loved ones," he said.

The Dutch court's ruling came more than eight years after the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky by a missile during a conflict between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong called on Russia to surrender the convicted men so they could be sentenced for their "heinous crime".

"We would say to Russia, the world knows that you're harbouring murderers and that says something about you (president) Putin," she said.

Senator Wong said the trial "delivered justice and delivered truth" for the families of those on board and confirmed Russia's responsibility for the attack.

"These verdicts matter because they confirm the truth," she said.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was a day of mixed emotions for the families, noting there was slim chance Russia would accept the ruling and hand over the convicted men.

"There's a sense that there is unfinished business here," he said.

Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham said the successful prosecution of the murderers sent a powerful global message.

"Efforts to ensure those responsible face genuine punishment and justice must continue, as must the efforts to have Russia cease its senseless campaigns of violence," he said.

The head of Australia's victim identification team welcomed the news and paid tribute to everyone involved in gathering evidence in the past eight years.

Simon Walsh said it had been an incredible effort to be able to bring material before the court despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.

"It's a really significant milestone for everyone involved," he told Sky News.

Australian Federal Police representatives in The Netherlands are providing support to families following the verdict.

"While the verdict may bring some families a sense of justice, the AFP understands their grief may not be undone by the court's findings," the agency said.

Russia has branded the proceedings as politically motivated.

"Both the proceedings and the outcome of the trial prove that the process was based on a political order to prop up the version of Russia's responsibility for the tragedy," its foreign ministry said.

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