In Brief

Flight MH17: Four men go on trial for murder

The accused are not expected to appear in Schiphol court

Four men will go on trial today in the Netherlands in the first criminal case resulting from the murder of 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 after Russian-backed rebels seized the area. 

Prosecutors say they have evidence the missile system that brought it down came from a military base in Russia but Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement in the deadly attack.

The four suspects - Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko - are not expected to appear for the trial. Three are from Russia and one from eastern Ukraine. 

The trial will be held at a high security justice complex at Schiphol airport, from where flight MH17 took off.

Piet Ploeg, whose brother and nephew died in the attack, told the BBC that the trial will help to discover the truth about the attack.

“We want the world to know what really happened and to know who did it,” he said.

Flight MH17 crash

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 left Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 12.31pm local time on 17 July 2014 and was due to land in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur the following day.

Instead, the Boeing 777 broke apart in mid-air following an explosion near the cockpit as the aircraft flew over eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.

A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children and 15 Malaysian crew members were killed. The victims included 193 Dutch citizens, 43 Malaysians, 38 Australians, 12 Indonesians and ten Britons. The other passengers were from Belgium, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Last November, international investigators released recordings of intercepted telephone calls that suggest top Russian officials coordinated the attack on MH17.

NL Times says a survey last month found that 55% of Russian citizens agree or completely agree that Russia should pay grief damages to the relatives of the MH17 victims if the investigation finds that Moscow was responsible for this disaster.

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