11:58 07.06.2021

Court in the Netherlands starts considering case on downed MH17 on the merits

3 min read
Court in the Netherlands starts considering case on downed MH17 on the merits

The District Court of The Hague (the Netherlands) is starting consideration on the merits of the criminal case on the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in the skies over Donbas on July 17, 2014, as a result of which 289 people died.

Thus, in the trial, which began on March 9, 2020, a new phase began, which followed the initial assessment of the readiness of the case itself to be considered on the merits.

Currently, charges have been brought against four persons: three Russians and one Ukrainian: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. Only Pulatov is represented by lawyers who, during the first phase of the trial, filed a number of motions, requesting both additional investigations, which were subsequently carried out by the investigating judge, and additional information. In this regard, Pulatov's case was heard simultaneously, but not jointly with the other three defendants.

On May 21, during a court hearing, presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis said that the court could consider the case in fact in three days - from June 7 to June 11. According to him, the discussion will focus on three issues: whether the MH17 shot down by a Buk missile was the Buk launched from a field near Pervomayske and whether the accused were involved. The court will discuss these three issues, and will also discuss a large number of documents that are present in the case, he announced. At the same time, the judge explained that the judicial assessment will be given only on the day of the verdict.

According to him, June 7 will be devoted to procedural issues, on June 8 the first and second issues will be discussed, and on the third day - the third issue. "This part - the possible role of the accused - will be the most voluminous. Therefore, Friday, June 11, will be a reserve one," Steenhuis said.

According to preliminary planning, on June 17 and June 18, the prosecution will appear, followed by the opportunity to speak to Pulatov's defense. This block of hearings will last until July 9. In September, the relatives of the victims will be given the opportunity to go to court.

As reported, on July 17, 2014, the MH17 flight was shot down over Donbas, killing all 298 people onboard. 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.

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