Court in case of downed MH17 to hold visiting session at military air base to inspect reconstruction with limited number of participants
A visiting session of the court at the military airbase in Gilze-Rijen (the Netherlands) to inspect the reconstruction of the downed flight MH17 will be held on May 26 with a limited number of participants.
The corresponding decision was announced by presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis during the court session on Thursday.
On April 16, the court decided that in the case of defender Pulatov [Oleg Pulatov is one of the four accused who is represented in court by the defense] there is a need to conduct an inspection. The court invited the prosecution and the defense to indicate in detail, by May 10, at the latest, to which parts of the reconstruction and pieces of debris they would like to attract the attention of the court. The court will also take into account which part of the reconstruction it makes sense to inspect, according to experts from the Netherlands Institute of Forensic Science, Almaz-Antey (the Russian manufacturer of Buk), who were recently questioned by an investigating judge, the chairman announced the decision.
According to Steenhuis, the inspection is scheduled for May 26 and will be held in the format of an offsite meeting, which means that the hearings of the inspection will be open.
At the same time, the judge said, given the circumstances that the inspection will take place at a military airbase, which is not accessible to a large number of people, as well as taking into account the restrictive measures taken in connection with COVID-19, the court has already decided that the public will not be able to attend. Participants in the process may be present, but the court will limit their participation in the inspection to two on each side - for the defense, lawyers for the relatives and friends of the victims and prosecution, and in the interests of the parties concerned and the public, there will be a live broadcast, the judge said.
In addition, the court considered it possible to invite a very limited number of media. He said that during the meeting on May 21, the court will announce the agenda for this inspection. Then the hearings will be suspended and will move to the site of the reconstruction of MH17 at the military airbase in Gilze-Rijen. It also means that the defense, the lawyers of the relatives and the prosecution will have the opportunity to say something about this issue. The court wiil decede whether to speak or not on this issue during the inspection depending on the situation, Steeinhuis said about the procedure of the visiting session.
He also said that, as mentioned earlier, the court considers it possible, despite the fact that the investigating judge has not yet completed the investigation in full, this should not impede the hearings, in fact, starting from June 7.
As reported, on March 9, at the Schiphol court complex near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a trial began over four accused of the tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. There were to be three Russian citizens and one Ukrainian on the dock: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. Only one of them, Pulatov, is represented by lawyers from a Dutch firm, assisted by Russian lawyer Kutina. The trial took place in the absence of the accused.
As reported, on July 17, 2014, the MH17 flight was shot down over Donbas, killing all 298 people on board. Two-thirds of passengers are citizens of the Netherlands. Citizens of Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, the UK, Belgium, the United States, Germany, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand were also onboard. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which includes law enforcement from Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Malaysia, is probing the incident.
In September 2016, the Joint Investigation Group released its findings, according to which the airliner was shot down by a missile launched from a Buk air defense system, and a year ago it announced that the Buk belonged to the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade stationed in Kursk.
The JIT named Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko as suspects in the MH17 crash on May 19, 2019. All of them were put on the international wanted list. They are charged with the murder of 298 passengers onboard and its crash.