Tuesday 27 July 2021

MH17 trial resumes for three days of hearings, focusing on the evidence

The high security courtroom. Photo: N. van der Pas

The trial of four men for their role in the downing of flight MH17, killing all 298 people on board, resumes at the high-security courtroom at Schiphol airport on Monday with three days of hearings focusing on the evidence.

Four suspects – three Russians and one Ukrainian – are charged with causing the crash of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all persons on board, and of their murder. Just one, Oleg Pulatov, has retained counsel.

All four are said to have played key roles in the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ in eastern Ukraine, where the Buk missile which brought down the plane was fired.

On Monday the court is expected to outline how the case – now running to 40,000 pages and over 100 files – will proceed over the next three days and about the visit to the remains of the plane made by court officials two weeks ago.

Later this month, the public prosecution department and the defence will focus on evidence which they find particularly important and in September the court will hear from the victims’ relatives. Over 70 people have indicated they wish to speak.

The trial began in March 2020 and no end date for the trial has yet been set. Officials expect it will be at least November before all the evidence has been dealt with and next year before closing arguments are heard.

The official investigation concluded in 2016 that the plane was shot down from Ukrainian farmland by a BUK missile ‘controlled by pro-Russian fighters’. That conclusion has been disputed by Russia, which claims that Ukrainian fighters were responsible.

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