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Dutch judges complete presentation of dossier in MH17 case

The dossier has 65,000 pages and includes a large volume of audio and video digital materials

SCHIPHOL /Netherlands/, June 10. /TASS/. The Hague District Court on Thursday completed the presentation of the dossier in the case of the Boeing crash in Ukraine in July 2014. The hearings spanned three days when judges briefly outlined what documents were received from the prosecution, what audio and video materials are regarded as evidence, and what testimony of witnesses reveal.

Traditionally, judges also ask questions to defendants and discuss certain points at this stage. However, since all four defendants are tried in absentia, the hearings only included a formal readout of the dossier, which is divided into three parts corresponding to the main issues faced by the court: was the MH17 flight shot down from a Buk missile system, was the missile launched from the village of Pervomayskoye and were the defendants involved in it.

Presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis earlier said that the dossier has 65,000 pages and includes a large volume of audio and video digital materials.

New and old information

Most information was already known before and was particularly contained in the final report of the Dutch Safety Board published in 2015, was voiced at press conferences of the Joint Investigation Team in 2018-2019 as well as when the Dutch prosecution presented the case to the court in 2020.

However, there were some new details, particularly a dashboard camera video which shows a vehicle hauling a shipment in its trailer resembling a Buk missile system. However, the recording is dated by September 2, 2012 but the investigation believes that it could have been made on July 17, 2014 because the camera owner experienced technical difficulties with it. It is unclear whether judges will append this video to the case.

Another point of interest is that the investigation obtained recordings of conversations between the defendants.

To be continued

Steenhuis closed the hearings by once again emphasizing, "what the court has presented about all of this is a reflection of what the case file contains, it does not represent an opinion on the part of the court." These materials, both working for and against the defendants, were chosen because the court deems them important to be studied before delivering the final ruling.

"As it was said earlier, the dossier is not currently closed," he added. "Several investigations are still underway."

The court’s conclusions will only be announced together with the verdict which is still a long way off. "Prior to that, the public prosecution and the defense <…> would indicate what conclusions they draw with respected to the indicted offences," the judge said.

It is expected that the prosecution will share its thoughts about what was shared in these three days on June 17-18.

Boeing crash

A Boeing-777 passenger liner of Malaysia Airlines, (flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur) was shot down over Ukraine's Donetsk Region on July 17, 2014. All 298 passengers and crew - citizens of ten countries - perished in the catastrophe. A Joint Investigation Team was created to probe the disaster. In June 2019, the JIT said it had identified a group of four suspects: former chief of the Donetsk People's Republic's militia Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and his subordinates Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. A court case against them began in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020. They are accused of allegedly delivering a Buk air defense missile launcher from Russia to Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed distrust towards the results from the JIT and pointed to the lack of arguments that might back up the charges and to the reluctance to take into consideration Moscow's arguments in conducting the investigation.