Summary of day 1 of the MH17 trial. March 9 2020

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March 9 is the first day of the MH17 trial. The trial takes places in a court building near Schiphol Airport.

The court of the MH17 case consists of 3 judges and 2 alternate judges. The Presiding Judge is Mr. H. Steenhuis, judges D. Koster and C. Kerstens-Fockens are seated on either side of him. The alternate judges for this trial are D. Glass and E. Poppe-Gielesen.

One of the most interesting new facts was that earlier a Buk was sent to Ukraine from Russia.

  1. As expected the four suspects did not show up. Dutch and a Russian lawyer representing  one of the suspects (Pulatov) are present
  2. 49 relatives plan to speak at the trial. 82 to give written victim impact statements. 84 plan to seek damages
  3. The judge concludes the trial can continue even when the suspects are not present. The Dutch prosecution service tried to inform the suspects of the trial via whatsapp, vKontakte. Also letters were send. Letters were also sent to Russian courthouses. The suspects did not show up.
  4. The Dutch public prosecution service read out all the names of the people on board. This took around 23 minutes
  5. One of the judges approved that a couple of witness can remain anonymous for their safety

After the break the public prosecutor (OM) told about the investigation

  1. Many militant groups in Eastern Ukraine requested Russia to supply a Buk. One Buk catched fire before it was delivered to Eastern Ukraine.
  2. The OM decided not to prosecute Bezler. The recorded telephone conversation was shortly before the downing and did not have effect on the crime
  3. Bezler made statements to JIT
  4. suspects so far did not state they are acting on behalf of a states and as military
  5. OM believes a mistake is possible. The intend to down a military plane is still murder in the given circumstances
  6. Suspects cannot claim law of war. Suspects are prosecuted as normal citizens.
  7. OM does not expect new suspects soon.
  8. Many people were involved in guarding and transporting the Buk. Many could not be identified or are dead
  9. Two man using callsign Orion and Delfin are not standing trial as they were not involved in the transport of the Buk which was used to down MH17.
  10. Delfin was involved in transportion of the Buk to Russia after it launched the deadly missile
  11. The OM also praises the (civil) journalists who investigated the attack
  12. There is at the moment not enough evidence to decide if Tsemach, the Ukraine man who was extradicted to Russia in a prisoner swap, will be prosecuted.

Then the defense lawyers do their talk:

  1. Pulatov decide to have him defended because he is innocent
  2. The lawyer asks why Ukraine did not close its airspace. In Russian NOTAMS airspace was closed to a much higher altitude
  3. Lawyers need more time to study the dossier of the prosecutor. Will do their best to proceed on June 8
  4. Laywers states it is remarkable JIT did not investigate why Ukraine did not close its airspace

At day 2 the OM will tell about the state of the investigation.

Dutch press officer of the prosecutor: “We have witnesses who were threatened and witnesses who required specific security arrangements”

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