The Netherlands have completed all preparations for a trial into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine, Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus said late on Wednesday in a letter to the country’s parliament.
"The Prosecutor’s Office will present the results of its investigation to independent judges during hearings, which will be open to the public," he said. "All practical preparations for the start of the criminal process have been completed. The first session will take place on march 9, 2020."
The hearings will be held by The Hague District Court "with all necessary guarantees for suspects and with a good legal position for the relatives of the deceased."
On Wednesday, the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) looking into the incident, named three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian citizen suspected of being involved in the Boeing 777 crash in Ukraine in July 2014. The list of suspects includes Igor Girkin, known under the alias Strelkov, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko. International investigators will address Russia with the request to interrogate the suspects, TASS reports.
Dutch chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said his country "would not press for their extradition, because the constitution of Russia and Ukraine do not envisage the extradition of suspects." However, he added that prosecutors would hand over court subpoenas to the suspects in Russia and question them.
"Of course, they can arrive to the trial or contact the prosecutor’s office," Westerbeke said, adding that chances of that were extremely low.
However, the prosecutor general assured that the trial can be carried out in absentia, and the interests of the suspects will be defended by state attorneys.
The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines crashed on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in the east of the Donetsk Region. As a result, 298 people, citizens of 10 states, were killed in the crash. The parties to the armed conflict in Donbass accused each other of being complicit in the tragedy.
On May 24, 2018, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, released its update on the criminal investigation into the MH17 crash. According to the JIT, "the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17 originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade (hereinafter 53rd brigade), a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation."
Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the accusations saying that none of the Russian Army’s air defense missile systems had ever crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine, while the launched missile was delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 1986 and has not been in possession of the Russian military since then.