Frequently asked questions

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  • Once the criminal investigation is completed the Dutch Public Prosecution Service will summons the defendants to appear before a Dutch court. They will be tried in accordance with Dutch criminal law.

  • Any criminal case concerning the MH17 disaster will be heard by The Hague district court.

  • The Dutch judiciary has a great deal of experience handling complex cases involving international elements (e.g. Srebrenica, the Rwandan genocide and torture committed in Afghanistan under communist rule). A number of international criminal tribunals are also located in the Netherlands. For more information, see ‘The Dutch judiciary from an international perspective’ (in Dutch).

  • The Public Prosecution Service has not yet summonsed anyone to appear in connection with the downing of flight MH17, so it is not yet clear where the suspects are located. Whether a Dutch court can compel suspects to appear before the court will depend on the agreements and arrangements the Netherlands has concluded with the country concerned.

  • In general, courts want everything possible to be done to ensure that suspects are summonsed to appear at their trial, so that they have the opportunity to defend themselves or be defended by legal counsel. If a suspect fails to appear and does not arrange to be represented by counsel, the court may proceed in their absence, and the defendant may be convicted in absentia.

  • Under Dutch law, victims of offences and their next of kin have the right to be heard during criminal proceedings. Often they will a give a victim impact statement, in which they explain how they have been affected by what has happened.

  • Any sentence imposed by the court will be enforced in accordance with Dutch law. As a rule, the Netherlands works on the principle that convicted persons should serve their sentences in the Netherlands. However, this may also depend on the agreements and legal arrangements the Netherlands has concluded with other countries.

  • The suspects will be tried under Dutch criminal law. This means that any appeal proceedings will be heard by a Dutch appeal court.

  • The examining magistrate ensures that the criminal court judges who will hear the case have all the available information about the MH17 disaster. He or she may order or carry out an investigation, which could involve questioning witnesses or experts. The examining magistrate also authorises the use of certain investigative methods by the police and the public prosecutor, such as setting up phone and internet taps.
    The examining magistrate’s investigation is intended to establish the truth and is therefore carried out behind closed doors to limit the risk of people influencing the investigation. This is why the court does not disclose any information about the examining magistrate’s investigation.

  • No, this is determined by the public prosecutor. If the police arrest a suspect, and the trial has not yet started, the examining magistrate decides whether the suspect should be held on remand. The maximum period of remand in custody is two weeks. After that period, the court decides whether the suspect’s detention can be extended. The court is cautious about disclosing information regarding such decisions, but can explain in general terms why an individual is being held on remand.


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  • It’s impossible to say at this time whether the trial will be broadcast. In principle, criminal trials in the Netherlands are open to the public. The President of the court may allow the trial – or parts of it – to be broadcast. For more information, see the Press Guidelines (in Dutch).

  • It’s impossible to say at this time how long the trial will last, as this will depend on many factors, such as the number of defendants, the nature of the charges and the wishes of the defence.

  • It will not be held at the courthouse in The Hague, but rather at the Justice Complex Schiphol at Badhoevedorp.

  • There are many next of kin, and we expect great interest from the media and the public, both here in the Netherlands and around the world. The courthouse in The Hague cannot accommodate such a large trial; it simply lacks the facilities.

  • The Public Prosecution Service has not yet made a decision to prosecute, so the case has not yet been referred to the court. Accordingly, we cannot answer any questions as to the timetable for and substance of the trial.

  • The Public Prosecution Service has not yet taken a prosecution decision and the case has not yet been filed with the court. Nevertheless, a location has already been designated where the District Court of The Hague can conduct the process, so that the process can start when a prosecution decision has been made.

  • Yes. it happens from time to time. The justice minister will occasionally designate another location if it is necessary for security reasons or due to other circumstances.

  • To ensure that those affected by the MH17 disaster can find information about the trial, this website provides information in four languages: Dutch, English, Ukrainian and Russian.
    The main language of the trial will be Dutch. Publishing information in English makes it accessible to a broad international audience. Information is provided in Ukrainian because MH17 was downed over Ukraine, and in Russian because this is the majority language in the area where the wreckage and the victims’ remains were recovered.
    The court hearings will be held in Dutch. Interpreters will be on hand for any participants who do not speak or understand Dutch. The judges can decide that certain parts of the trial may be conducted in English, for instance a word of welcome to any next of kin who do not understand Dutch.