On March 9 the trial of four men accused of murder over the downing of MH17 in 2014 has begun. Because of coronavirus outbreak the trial was held behind closed doors. Today the court postponed the trial until June 8, 10 a.m., in order to let the defense more time to prepare.
Four individuals, Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko are preliminary charged of causing an aircraft crash where 298 people died. The aircraft was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a missile fired from Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Moscow rebels. Prosecutors say the charged helped to arrange the Russian missile system that shot down the aircraft. Most passengers of the flight were Dutch.
Three of the charged are being tried in absentia, and Oleg Pulatov was represented by his lawyers. The judge announced that the defenders of suspect Oleg Pulatov should first be given the opportunity to study documents which consist of more than 36,000 pages. Previously Pulatov’s lawyers argued at the opening of the case on March 9 that they needed more time to read through all the court documents.
In addition, representatives of the victims’ families were given limited access to official case files. However, they will not have the right to make copies, show them to their clients or anyone else. Granting the right to documents at this stage may lead to the premature disclosure of the details of the investigation, which may affect the testimony of potential future witnesses.
The meeting was held without the press and relatives because of the risk of coronavirus spreading. Three judges, a secretary, a prosecutor and a lawyer were those present in the courtroom. All of them sat at a certain distance from each other subject to the safety recommendations.
The cases against all charged would therefore be suspended until June 8.