Suspects downing MH17 to stand trial in the Netherlands

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The Hague, 05 juli 2017

Persons suspected of downing flight MH17, will be put on trial in the Netherlands before a Dutch court. This decision was taken at the request of the countries jointly investigating the circumstances surrounding the disaster, the Dutch government writes the Lower House of Parliament.

[foto: Hollandse Hoogte]

Apart from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine are participating in the investigation. These five countries have decided to place their trust in the Dutch legal system. The Dutch judiciary ranks consistently among the top of world in terms of independence, impartiality and professionalism, according the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project.

International court cases

‘The Dutch courts have a wealth of experience in judging very complex international legal cases’, says chairman of the Netherlands Council for the Judiciary Frits Bakker. ‘In addition, the Netherlands is home to a number of international tribunals and well aware of the demands of international court cases.’

Preliminary investigation

No date has been set for the start of a trial. According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17 is still underway. No suspects have yet been summoned.

‘A supervisory judge will start a preliminary investigation on the basis of a summons and will give the attorneys representing the defendants an opportunity to make their wishes known for this investigation’, explains spokesperson and judge Lieneke de Klerk. ‘After the supervisory judge has finished the preliminary investigation, the trial may begin.’

Language

In the Netherlands, serious criminal cases are presided over by a panel of three professional judges. The Netherlands does not have lay judges or trials by jury.

According to present Dutch law, trials have to be held in Dutch. If participants in de proceedings do not sufficiently understand the Dutch language, translation is provided. 

Surviving relatives

Victims of serious crime and surviving relatives have a right to make a declaration during the criminal trial. In this declaration, they can for instance explain the consequences of this crime. Victims and surviving relatives can be supported by a lawyer during the criminal proceedings.

298 crash victims

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in Eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. In the disaster, 298 people were killed, including 196 Dutch, 42 Malaysian, 27 Australian and 4 Belgian citizens, and 31 citizens of other countries.

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