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Crucial hearing on MH17 Boeing crash kicks off in the Netherlands

The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash in 2014 EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT
The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash in 2014

SCHIPHOL /The Netherlands/, June 7. /TASS/. The Hague District Court has begun its substantial hearing of the case regarding the July 17, 2014, Boeing crash in Ukraine. The hearing is taking place in the Schiphol Judicial Complex with heightened security measures. The defendants are former Donetsk People’s Republic militia leader Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and his subordinates Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis announced that the defendants were informed about the hearing but did not show up. Pulatov is being represented by two Dutch lawyers.

The judge disclosed that the case dossier includes 65,000 pages and a large amount of digital information. This being considered, the court does not intend to discuss every detail.

"There is no need for this," Steenhuis said. "At the initial stage, we intend to discuss only the key moments."

According to the judge, the court currently plans to focus on three questions: whether the Boeing was downed by a Buk system missile, whether the missile was launched from the area of the settlement of Pervomayskoye, and whether the defendants were involved.

Nearly 300 relatives demand compensation

"After the court finishes discussing the dossier, the trial will enter its next phase, when the relatives of the victims are given a word," the judge said. "This will happen in September. During the same period, we plan to discuss the matter of compensation."

Currently, a total of 299 relatives filed demands for compensation. Some of them plan to address the court and disclose how the incident influenced their lives. Then, the hearing will continue with a speech by the prosecution and the defense, who will provide their arguments for and against the defendants’ guilt.

"It is important to note that only after all the hearings are over will the court make its ruling regarding the presented accusations," he underscored. "The court will have to conclude whether the defendants are guilty, whether they committed a criminal offence, and whether they could be punished."

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people from ten countries. The Joint Investigative Team (JIT) was established in order to carry out a criminal investigation of the tragedy. In June 2019, the JIT announced that it had identified a group of four people suspected of being involved in the incident. The trial against them began in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020. They are accused of delivering a Buk missile system from Russia to Ukraine.

Russian officials repeatedly expressed their lack of confidence in the results of the JIT’s work, and pointed out the groundlessness of the accusations, as well as the unwillingness to use Moscow’s conclusions during the investigation.