MH17 trial suspended until June

Updated: Mar 25

The trial of four men accused of murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine in 2014 will be adjourned until June 8 to give defense lawyers more time to prepare, judges at the hearing in the Netherlands ruled on Monday. The third hearing in MH17 trial in the Netherlands lasted less than an hour.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, similar to the one involved in MH17. Photo by Laurent Errera / Wikimedia Commons.

"The court decided to postpone the decision on additional investigations until the hearing, which will begin on June 8, 2020," head judge Hendrik Steenhuis said, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

He stated that the defense and the prosecution would be able to raise their preliminary objections and requests for additional investigation on June 8, 2020, at 10:00 local time. He also noted that the relatives of the victims asked the court for access to the case files.

"The court ruled that a large number of documents and files had been collected during the criminal investigation of the case, which began on July 17, 2014 and continued up to this day. The defense noted that it had managed only recently to get these files, which include about 36,000 pages and a large number of multimedia files, and was unable to fully study this information. So the defense will be able to review and prepare its position for a hearing on June 8, 2020, or later," the judge said.

According to him, it is not possible to consider the case in more detail at this stage. The first hearings in the MH17 criminal proceedings took place on 9 and 10 March 2020. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over conflict-hit Donbas, Ukraine in July 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. There were no survivors.

An international Joint Investigation Team reported that the plane had been shot down from a Buk missile system that belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk, Russia. In May 2018, the Netherlands and Australia formally accused Russia of being responsible for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet. On June 19, 2019, the international Joint Investigation Team named four suspects, three Russians and one Ukrainian, who are believed to be involved in the transportation and combat use of the Buk missile system, from which MH17 flight had been downed. None of them was present at the court hearing

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