Frequently asked questions

On this page you can find an overview of the most frequently asked questions and our answers. If you cannot find your question here, please ask it on one of our contact channels.

The first court session of the MH17 trial will take place on March 9th, 2020. Now that the Dutch Public Prosecution Service has decided to prosecute, the public prosecutors will start the MH17 proceedings by serving writs of summons on the suspects. The summons states the names of the accused individuals, the offences they are accused of and the date of the hearing that the suspect is expected to attend.

It’s impossible to say. The duration of a trial depends on many different factors, such as the number of defendants, whether they attend the hearings, the nature of the crime, and what investigative activities the defence wishes to be carried out.

The trial will be conducted in Dutch, so the hearings will be in Dutch. Defendants and/or lawyers attending a hearing who do not speak Dutch may be assisted by interpreters. 

The court may allow parts of the trial to be conducted in English. This is one of the provisions of the legislation adopted in July 2018, making it possible to try the suspects in the MH17 case in the Netherlands (see the section on new legislation on the About the MH17 trial page).

The hearings will be broadcast online via a live stream in both Dutch and English. More information will be made available in due course. Check the Live stream page and the social media for news.

The District Court of The Hague has experience with complex court cases involving international elements. It has, for instance, heard cases with regard to offences that are punishable in the International Crimes Act, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

Defendants are entitled to attend hearings, but not required to do so. If the court considers it necessary for a defendant to attend a hearing, it can issue a subpoena. That is the procedure in the Netherlands. If the defendant is not in the Netherlands, extradition may be possible if the Netherlands has an extradition treaty with the country or countries in question.

If a defendant cannot be present at a hearing, the court can decide to use video conferencing technology. The defendant can then take part in the proceedings from their location abroad (see the section on new legislation on the About the MH17 trial page).

Watch the vide:

Yes, if the defendants are not present at the trial, the case is heard ‘in absentia’. Of course it is preferable for them to be present at the hearings. Defendants who are not present can have their lawyer represent them. In this particular case, it will also be possible for defendants to take part in the proceedings via video link (see the question ‘Are defendants who live outside the Netherlands required to come to the Netherlands for the hearings?’). In both situations (representation in court by a defence lawyer or participation through a video link) the defendant is deemed to be present and is therefore not being tried in absentia.

Watch the video:

Any sentence handed down by the court will be enforced in accordance with Dutch law. In general the Netherlands works on the principle that convicted persons serve their sentences in the Netherlands. However, the answer to this question ultimately depends on what treaties and other legal arrangements the Netherlands has with the countries where the persons were arrested and the countries of which they are nationals.

The relatives of the victims and other interested parties are not all from the Netherlands and they do not all speak Dutch. The court wants as many people as possible to be able to find information about the trial. That is why all the information on this website is in both Dutch and English.

You can read more about the court case, refer to the glossary of terms or consult other pages on this website. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact us.

Relatives of the victims who have the right to address the court are given the opportunity to exercise this right. They decide themselves what they want to say at the hearing. For instance, they can speak about the effect the offence has had, or give their opinion on the penalty that should be imposed on the defendant(s). Of course, it is ultimately up to the court to decide on any penalty to be imposed and its severity. 

There will be a separate procedure for relatives of the victims who wish to attend the proceedings. They will be informed of the procedure through the usual communication channels once more information is available.

The law says that the following relatives of the victims have the right to address the court:

  • The spouse or partner of the deceased.
  • Blood relatives from the same direct line of descent as the deceased (the direct line of descent means people who are descended from one another, for example parents and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren).
  • Blood relatives of the deceased from a collateral line, up to and including the fourth degree (this means people who are not descended from one another but who do have a common ancestor, so for example siblings and cousins; the degree is determined by counting the number of births that lie between the relatives in the family tree: for example the birth of the deceased, birth of a parent, birth of an uncle or aunt, birth of a cousin).
  • People who were depending on the deceased. These are people whose position is similar to that of members of the immediate family, but specifically refers to those who were financially supported by the deceased. For instance, this could include a child who the deceased had not officially acknowledged as their own or someone living in the same household who was not a blood relative of the deceased.


There will be a separate procedure for relatives of the victims who wish to attend the proceedings. They will be informed of the procedure through the usual communication channels once more information is available.

The presiding judge decides who may sit in the courtroom. The judge will of course offer relatives of the victims a place.

There is not enough space in the courtroom for all the relatives of the victims. Consideration is being given to the best way to allocate the space available to the relatives of the victims. The relatives of the victims will be informed of the procedure through the usual communication channels. If relatives of the victims wish to exercise their right to address the court at the time designated for this purpose, space will be made available for them in the courtroom. The presiding judge will determine the practical details of how this right can be exercised. The relatives of the victims will be informed about this through the usual communication channels.

All Dutch and foreign media are welcome to come to Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) to cover the trial, but space in the courtroom is limited. For this reason The Hague district court has set up a special press centre from which members of the media can report on the trial. They can watch the hearings live as they are broadcast from several cameras in the courtroom. The aim is to relay the full proceedings so that viewers see everything that happens in the courtroom. Access to the press centre will be by accreditation only.

All the hearings will be streamed online, so they can be followed from anywhere in the world. The live stream that shows the proceedings will be broadcast on this website, in Dutch and English. More information about the live stream will be available in due course. Check the Live stream page and the social media for news.

It will also be possible to watch the hearings on a large screen in a separate room at Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS). You will not be inside the courtroom, but the hearing will be broadcast live from several cameras in the courtroom. The aim is to relay the full proceedings so that viewers see everything that happens in the courtroom. More information about registration will be made available in due course. Check the Attend page and the social media for news.

It is up to media outlets to decide whether they will broadcast the hearings live. The District Court of The Hague will stream all the hearings online in Dutch and English so that they can be viewed from anywhere in the world. More information about the live stream will be available in due course. Check the Live stream page and the social media for news.

There is a separate procedure for relatives of the victims who wish to attend the proceedings. They will be informed of the procedure through the usual communication channels once more information is available.

Others can come to Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) to watch the hearings on a large screen in a separate room. You will not be inside the courtroom itself, but the hearings will be broadcast live from several cameras in the courtroom. The aim is to relay the full proceedings so that viewers see everything that happens in the courtroom. More information about registration will be made available in due course. Check the Attend page and the social media for news. 

Media representatives can apply for accreditation. Accredited members of the media will always have access to the press centre, where the proceedings will be broadcast live from the courtroom on multiple screens. The aim is to relay the full proceedings so that viewers see everything that happens in the courtroom. Members of the media can also indicate whether they would like to apply for a seat in the courtroom. More information about accreditation and the procedure for assigning seats in the courtroom to the media will be published on the Attend page of this website.

There is a separate procedure for international observers attending the proceedings. They will be informed of the procedure through the usual communication channels once more information is available.

It is expected that many relatives of the victims from various countries will attend the hearings and that Dutch and foreign media will want to cover the trial. There will also be interest from people both in the Netherlands and abroad, who may want to attend the hearings. Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) can accommodate large numbers of people and is easy to reach. The courthouse in The Hague is unable to accommodate such a large trial.

Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) is a complex of buildings used by a number of different organisations within the justice and immigration system. It includes a court building that is equipped for handling major cases. The complex also houses Schiphol Detention Centre and the Schiphol asylum application centre, which is a unit of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The JCS is located in Badhoevedorp.

Accreditation to attend is issued to each individual in a personal capacity. Interested family members, friends, acquaintances or colleagues must register separately themselves. They may do so by going to our registration system.

The District Court of The Hague will handle your personal information with the utmost discretion and store it securely in accordance with the statutory provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Directive on data protection for the purposes of investigation and prosecution. Your data will be used solely for administrative purposes in conjunction with the MH17 court case. Read more about how the Dutch legal system protects and processes your private data.

You can register to attend one or more consecutive court days. The accreditation that you receive from us is only valid for the court day or days that you have chosen and not for every court day in the MH17 trial. Your data will be saved, so that you can register again for one or more court days at a later time. The date on which registration opens for new court days will be announced on this website and relayed to you using the e-mail address that you have provided to us.

A certain degree of unpredictability is to be expected when it comes to criminal proceedings. It is possible that court days will be shortened, re-scheduled, suspended or even cancelled. It is not possible to know in advance whether or when that might happen.

No. On court days, everyone in the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) must be accredited. The video below explains how to attend the trial and follow it by livestream.

The court will hear this case in courtroom D in the JCS. All parties who have an ongoing role to play in the proceedings will be seated in that courtroom. It is, however, not large enough to accommodate all visitors and media.

It is very important to us that everyone can follow this case and so we have arranged an alternative means of doing so: the court proceedings will be streamed live in Dutch and English on all court days on this website. Visitors who wish to attend on site at the JCS will be seated in one of the rooms that are immediately adjacent to courtroom D. Via a live connection with courtroom D they can watch and listen to the proceedings, in greater detail than the live stream.  

Members of the media who have been accredited can access the press centre and the press zone using their pass. Access to rooms A, B and C is for visitors only.

If the details in your registration to attend court no longer match the details on your valid proof of identity, you must send an e-mail to registration.courtmh17@rechtspraak.nl. The District Court of The Hague will then amend the personal details of your accreditation.

If you have questions about court days, you can contact us using the e-mail address registration.courtmh17@rechtspraak.nl