MH17 trial resumes in the Netherlands

On Monday, June 8, the court hearings in the case of the flight MH17 downed over the Donbas have resumed in the Netherlands.

"As planned, the criminal case of MH17 will resume on Monday, June 8. However, due to the current coronavirus and relevant national guidelines, the court hearing block has been amended to allow a limited number of people to attend the courtroom at Schiphol Judicial Complex. Naturally, everyone can follow the hearings live," the court said in a statement.

In addition to judges, secretaries and prosecutors, a maximum of two relatives' lawyers, two defense lawyers and a limited number of members of the press will be present in the courtroom.

The last hearing took place on March 23. The court is expected to " summarise what was discussed at the previous hearings, and what has happened since."

" The Defense and the Counsel for the Relatives will be given the opportunity to address the Court. In addition, the Public Prosecution Service will describe the criminal investigation. Their presentations are expected to take a number of days. At the end of this block of hearings, the court will take any decisions needed and will look ahead to the next block of hearings starting on 31 August 2020.," the court said.

From June 8 to 12, the comments of the defense and the lawyer of relatives, as well as the presentation of the prosecutor's office will be presented.

"Presently, it appears that the hearings will be adjourned after 12 June until 22 June 2020. On that day, the Defence will receive the opportunity to submit any requests for investigative steps it might have, after which hearings will adjourn again until a later date, when reactions will be heard. The court currently estimates that this part of the hearings may conclude no later than Friday 26 June 2020. Should the court need to take decisions further to the submissions, requests or applications made, the hearing will be adjourned until no later than Friday 3 July 2020 or earlier, if that is possible. The court will not sit on 29 and 30 June 2020," the court was scheduled.

None of the four suspects appeared for the second session, reported Evropeyska Pravda.

Three Russian citizens, Sergei Dubinsky, Igor Girkin and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko have the status of the accused. They were also absent during the first meeting in March.

Pulatov is represented in the trial by a team of lawyers, two of them are at the meeting today.

The judge noted that the case would be heard in the absence of the accused and all the data presented would apply to all four unless otherwise stated separately.

The court was presented with photos from U.S. satellites, which show the Buk missile. The U.S. military did not provide the photos in their original form to the public, but they allowed the Dutch representative to study the sources, and a memorandum will be attached to the case file (where copies of the images are likely to be copied in a smaller resolution).

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down near the city of Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. All crew members and passengers were killed, a total of 298 people, including 80 children.

At a press conference in The Hague in May 2018, nearly four years later, the JIT presented fragments of the missile used to shoot down the plane. The Buk system from which the missile was fired belonged to the 53rd anti-air missile brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, which is based in Kursk.

In June 2019, the JIT released the names of four suspects in the MH17 case: The three Russian citizens Sergey “Gloomy” Dubinsky, Oleg “Caliph” Pulatov and Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, and the Ukrainian citizen Leonid “Mole” Kharchenko. Former DPR militant Vladimir Tsemakh was later also declared a suspect, but Ukraine handed him over to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that the defendants are suspected of committing “a terrorist act which lead to human deaths”.

After five years of investigation, the JIT has established the exact time and route taken by the Buk anti-air missile system from Russia to Ukraine and back, the time and place where the fatal missile was fired, and obtained information about more than 150 people who were involved in the transportation of the Buk.

  MH17, Donbas, Netherlands