In the Netherlands, the trial has resumed in the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 shot down in the skies over Donbas. Within three weeks, with short breaks at the hearings, the floor will be given to the families and friends of the victims, who intend to tell the court about the consequences of the disaster.

Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said none of the four suspects had showed up for the hearing. According to him, the court will also examine additional materials provided by the investigating judge, including interrogation of witnesses and expert opinions on previously submitted audio recordings.

According to the judge, the Russian authorities refused to question the three accused Russians, namely: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service and former so-called defence minister of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic;” Sergey Dubinskiy, general (at the time of downing – colonel) of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and head of the so-called “Main Intelligence Directorate of the Donetsk People’s Republic;” and Oleg Pulatov, lieutenant colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. In addition, Ukraine said it did not know the whereabouts of the fourth accused – Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian civilian who fought on the side of Russian-backed militants.

The presiding judge noted that all defendants retain the right to appear in court.

After that, Ria van der Steen, a member of the board of the Aviation Disaster Foundation, who lost her father and stepmother in the MH17 crash, was the first to speak. The woman began her speech in Russian, quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “They lie to us, we know they are lying, they know we know they are lying.”

In total, more than 90 relatives of those killed in the MH17 plane crash from the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Canada will be allowed to address judges.

In the Netherlands, this process has already been called ‘historic and unprecedented’ – for the first time in the history of the country’s judiciary, more than 90 relatives of the victims will address the court. This will be the most emotional moment in the hearings.

As a reminder, in March 2020, the District Court of The Hague began the consideration of the case over the downing of Flight MH17.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over the temporarily occupied part of the Donetsk region on 17 July 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. All of them died.

The international Joint Investigation Team reported that the plane had been shot down from a Buk missile system that belonged to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.

Bohdan Marusyak

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